Ambulances ramping at a Gold Coast holiday
Ambulances ramping at a Gold Coast holiday

Epidemic fuelling our hospital crisis

NEW Queensland Health figures show flu cases are running at almost three times the five-year average on the eve of a top-level meeting to discuss emergency department capacity.

More than 6500 flu diagnoses have been reported in Queensland so far this year - 2.9 times the mean for the same period between 2014-18.

The unseasonal flu epidemic contributed to every adult public hospital emergency department in southeast Queensland reaching capacity last week.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles will meet the head of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine president Simon Judkins in Brisbane on Thursday to discuss pressures on the state's public hospitals.

Dr Judkins will call on Mr Miles to demand regular reports on patients having to wait longer than 24 hours in hospital EDs.

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine president, Dr Simon Judkins.
Australasian College for Emergency Medicine president, Dr Simon Judkins.

"We really want to generate those reports so that the minister can see week by week, or even day by day, what's going on at the coal face," Dr Judkins said.

"He needs the information so he knows how his hospitals are performing. I'm sure any minister wouldn't like the idea that patients are spending days in an ED."

Dr Judkins is particularly concerned about mental health patients having to wait longer than 12 hours in an emergency department before being admitted to hospital.

When a hospital psychiatric admission is required, he said processes: "need to be timely and streamlined so that acutely unwell people can access an appropriate inpatient bed any time of the day or any day of the week".

He said that ideally, mental health care workers should be based in hospital EDs 24 hours a day.

"There should be a therapeutic area in the ED so that mental health patients are not sitting in hallways. They should be in areas where they feel safe and secure and there's a mental health worker there to greet them as opposed to five hours later.

"Once a decision has been made that a person needs inpatient care, they should be able to access that care within a reasonable time frame as opposed to three days later."



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