LONG WAIT: Eleven per cent of patients at Gladstone Hospital's ED weren't seen by a doctor within the recommended time in February.
LONG WAIT: Eleven per cent of patients at Gladstone Hospital's ED weren't seen by a doctor within the recommended time in February. Paul Braven GLA060716HOSPITAL

Emergency Department waiting times on the rise

WAITING times at Gladstone Hospital's emergency department rose last month, according to new hospital performance data released by Queensland Health.

Eleven per cent of emergency department patients were not seen within the clinically recommended time frames in February - up from just four per cent in January.

The jump accompanied a four per cent increase in total emergency department visits to Gladstone, most significantly a 32 per cent increase in Category 2 visits (patients with imminently life-threatening conditions) which should have been seen by a doctor within 10 minutes of their arrival.

Only 85 per cent of the 417 Category 2 patients were seen within that time frame.

But while the new rate is an increase on the previous month's figures, Gladstone's emergency department remains the best in the state for ensuring patients are seen on time.

The next best performing hospitals for which data was released were Townsville Hospital and the Princess Alexandra in Brisbane, where 20 per cent of patients were not seen to in time.

All 13 Category 1 patients at Gladstone (patients with immediate life-threatening conditions) were seen to within two minutes of their arrival, and just two per cent of all patients in January (the most recent data available) had to wait on a stretcher for more than 30 minutes - a practice known as ambulance ramping - also the best statistic in the state.

Health Minister Steven Miles earlier this month pointed to a lack of bulk billing doctors in Gladstone as the cause of more visits to the emergency department.

"We are seeing increasing pressure on emergency departments like the one at Gladstone Hospital because people have reduced access to a GP," Dr Miles said.



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