LINED UP: Five ambulance vehicles were photographed at the Rockhampton Hospital around the time that a patient was advised they were all tied up.
LINED UP: Five ambulance vehicles were photographed at the Rockhampton Hospital around the time that a patient was advised they were all tied up.

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.

Gladstone Hospital Picture Rodney Stevens
Gladstone Hospital Picture Rodney Stevens

“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.”

Rockhampton Hospital.
Rockhampton Hospital.

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.”

GLADSTONE

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

ROCKHAMPTON

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

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