Hospital chaos revealed: Patients treated in hallways

PATIENTS are being forced to undergo medical procedures and blood tests in packed hospital corridors and paramedics are watching movies on personal laptops while they wait with them, health whistleblowers allege.

Secret photos have revealed the extent of ramping at one of Queensland's busiest hospitals, as whistleblowers claim chronic overcrowding has led to the shocking practices.

The photos, recently taken at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and leaked to The Courier-Mail, come six months after health bosses claimed there were no bed shortages at the hospital.

They show up to eight paramedics waiting in a corridor, next to patients lined up on trolleys waiting for a bed, in a practice known as ramping. Images taken by The Courier-Mail yesterday show dozens of ambulances parked outside the PA Hospital.

Leaked photos – taken last year – showing paramedics waiting with patients recently at the Princess Alexandria Hospital emergency department. A photo taken last year of ramping in the corridors of the PA Hospital.
Leaked photos – taken last year – showing paramedics waiting with patients recently at the Princess Alexandria Hospital emergency department. A photo taken last year of ramping in the corridors of the PA Hospital.

The State Opposition, after being contacted by whistleblowers, claims the ramping crisis has forced medical staff to perform procedures, including taking blood, in hallways with no privacy for patients.

They claim elderly patients are being directly exposed to patients under police guard, including those suffering mental health issues.

Health whistleblowers say paramedics have also started bringing in personal laptops so they can watch movies while babysitting ­patients, the LNP claims.

PA Hospital acting executive director Veronica Casey said the Woolloongabba facility received larger numbers of ambulance transfers than other metropolitan hospitals.

 

Health whistleblowers say paramedics have also started bringing in personal laptops so they can watch movies while babysitting ­patients, the LNP claims.
Health whistleblowers say paramedics have also started bringing in personal laptops so they can watch movies while babysitting ­patients, the LNP claims.

 

"It is not uncommon to receive several car crashes, power tool injuries, immunocompromised patients with chemotherapy complications and helicopter transfers all in quick succession," she said.

"Any surges are usually resolved within two hours and we thank our patients for their understanding during these times."

It is understood clinical nurses sometimes perform simple tests such as taking blood pressure and other simple monitoring in hallways.

But surgical procedures requiring anaesthesia would not be performed in a hallway or waiting room.

Prisoners requiring clinical care have a separate section of the PA Hospital emergency department, away from public treatment areas.

A Queensland Health spokeswoman said winter was always the busiest period for hospitals, but beds had been available in every hospital across south-east Queensland in the past two weeks.

Ambulances parked at the Princess Alexandria Hospital on Monday. Picture AAPImage/ David Clark
Ambulances parked at the Princess Alexandria Hospital on Monday. Picture AAPImage/ David Clark

LNP leader Deb Frecklington said pictures did not lie and showed the real-life consequences of the health crisis.

The ambulance bay area at the Royal Brisbane Hospital yesterday. Picture AAPImage/ David Clark
The ambulance bay area at the Royal Brisbane Hospital yesterday. Picture AAPImage/ David Clark

"Code yellows are the norm, ramping has skyrocketed, there aren't enough beds - it's a debacle," she said.

"If Annastacia Palaszczuk had a shred of decency, she would sack (Health Minister) Steven Miles."

A Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman said there was no evidence paramedics were bringing their own devices into emergency departments or using work-issued iPads to watch movies or other personal content while they waited with patients. The whistleblower photos come less than two months after 500 ambulance patients were left on stretchers in overcrowded emergency hallways in Brisbane's south.

LNP Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington says the pictures expose a shocking health crisis. Picture: Tara Croser
LNP Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington says the pictures expose a shocking health crisis. Picture: Tara Croser

And in March every public hospital in the south-east except the Queensland Children's Hospital was at capacity.

Queensland Health figures show 29 per cent of patients transferred to the PA Hospital in April by ambulance were spending more than half an hour on a stretcher waiting to get a bed. The state average in April was 23 per cent



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