Ambulances ‘ramped’ as demand rises on CQ hospitals
Ambulances are being “ramped” or delayed at Gladstone and Rockhampton hospitals with frequent regularity as resources try to manage increased patient demand.
Both the government-managed services have acknowledged a recent spike in patient numbers but are confident of continued patient safety and treatment by excellent staff.
Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Steve Williamson said due to the nature of emergencies, they could be challenging and difficult to plan for.
Mr Williamson and Queensland Ambulance Service Deputy Commissioner Statewide Operations Dee Taylor Dutton said an increase in activity and acuity at Gladstone and Rockhampton hospitals in recent months had led to more pressure on services.
“Our Emergency Department teams at Gladstone and Rockhampton hospitals are highly
skilled and dedicated health professionals that work extremely hard every day for their
communities,” Mr Williamson said.
“Emergencies by their very nature can’t be planned; they’re always unexpected events and
therefore there are peaks and troughs of activity for many reasons.”
Ms Taylor Dutton said comprehensive data sharing between the Queensland Ambulance Service and Queensland Health ensured the best available treatment for patients.
Ms Taylor Dutton stressed no patients were left waiting in the back of ambulances for treatment.
“QAS and Queensland Health work collaboratively to ensure patient safety and safe transfer of patients from an ambulance stretcher into the care of the hospital’s emergency department,” she said.
“There is a strong relationship between the paramedic and the triage nurse in helping them understand the criticality of the patients condition, and patients are offloaded very quickly if their condition warrants it.”
To prepare for patient influx, hospitals have a “business intelligence dashboard” that displays ambulance movements to and from the facility.
“They’ve got business intelligence dashboards where they are able to see the ambulances that are coming to their facility before they’ve actually arrived,” Ms Taylor Dutton said.
“They are also able to see how many cases they have got waiting to be offloaded onto a bed.
“In addition to that we have got Queensland Ambulance Service operations supervisors in both Gladstone and Rockhampton who are working with the emergency departments, hospital and health services.”
The triage process, where patients are assessed based on their clinical needs, can cause delays for less serious patients.
“Patients are triaged according to their level of clinical need, whether they arrive by
ambulance or in person,” Mr Williamson said.
“This ensures the most seriously sick or injured patients get the treatment they need to ensure everyone gets the best possible outcome.
A variety of reasons were behind increased presentations, Mr Williamson said.
“There has been a general increase in activity and acuity in the past few months in Gladstone and Rockhampton, however there is no common cause for the presentations, which have been for a variety of reasons,” he said.
“It is our hope that Central Queenslanders stay safe over the holiday season, keep well
hydrated, drink lots of water and stay out of the heat of day, be extra cautious on the
roads and please avoid a trip to the ED.”
Month ED attendances QAS arrivals
January 2921 737
February 2971 675
March 3014 711
April 2186 549
May 2804 633
June 3476 633
July 3522 665
August 3975 746
September 2654 740
October 2882 718
November 3017 778
Total 33,422 7585
Month ED attendances QAS arrivals
January 4343 1784
February 4230 1645
March 4345 1642
April 3442 1477
May 3645 1566
June 3690 1558
July 3964 1598
August 4347 1782
September 4271 1745
October 4526 1797
November 4485 1785
Total 45,288 18379