Ambulance fleet crippled by hospital overcrowding

“It’s a long way from ideal,” they mentioned. “We have limited treatment options, we have very uncomfortable stretches … they’re in a crowded area, they’re at high risk of exposure to COVID.”

Recently, they mentioned, they satisfied a psychological well being affected person to return to hospital, just for them to turn out to be more and more indignant after they needed to wait to be seen. They have been nonetheless there when the paramedic’s shift ended two hours later.

“They had put a bit of trust in me to come and get help that they really needed … Next time, they may not trust us to come.“

On Tuesday night Ambulance Victoria declared a code red for two hours when 99 per cent of the ambulance fleet was ramped at hospital or attending cases. Senior doctors and nurses emergency doctors told The Age that emergency department overcrowding was the worst it has been in years.

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid said hospitals did not have capacity to cope with current demand. The nation was now facing a “perfect storm”, he mentioned, the results of many years of underinvestment and an ageing inhabitants, together with a backlog of delayed care as a result of pandemic and an anticipated winter flu and COVID-19 season.

Calls from the AMA and states to extend federal funding of the hospital system to 50 per cent went unheeded on this week’s price range.

“We’re in for a really tough period coming up and the budget didn’t address any of those issues, at all. Unfortunately, we are not seeing any vision from the Opposition either,” Dr Khorshid mentioned.

“[You can’t just say] let’s build a new emergency department or a bigger one because that’ll be full in five minutes. What you need to do is look at the actual root cause of the problem.”

“It’s the fact that you can’t get people out of beds, that there’s not enough beds … that’s jamming up the emergency department and therefore when that’s jammed up, that leads to the ambulance ramping.“

A spokesperson for federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said hospital ramping was “a matter for the Victorian government”, including that Commonwealth funding for Victorian hospitals had grown considerably greater than the state’s funding since 2013.


In a bid to get paramedics again on the highway, Ambulance Victoria is utilizing its personal devoted groups primarily based at hospitals to take care of sufferers as they wait to be accepted by the hospital. The service additionally has hospital ambulance liaison officers stationed at 14 main Melbourne hospitals working with hospital employees to get sufferers offloaded extra shortly.

Ambulance Victoria wouldn’t touch upon the variety of circumstances being attended to every shift on common. A spokeswoman mentioned amid excessive demand for emergency care, the general public may assist by saving triple-0 for emergencies and take into account a GP, pharmacist or Nurse-On-Call for much less pressing well being points.

Victorian Ambulance Union secretary Danny Hill mentioned he had not too long ago acquired a briefing from Ambulance Victoria the place he was informed that ambulance crews have been attending to about 2.2 circumstances a day.

This quantity was smaller than it must be, he mentioned.

“Previously, crews may go to 10 cases in a single shift,” he mentioned, explaining that this may embrace quite a few minor incidents the place folks don’t want therapy.

“The paramedics themselves are actually saying they want to be more productive, and actually get out and do the work that they’re trained to do.

“When they’re at the hospital, they can hear over the radio of other cases going on … and they are not able to attend to them.“

Mr Hill said that highly skilled MICA paramedics, meant to be reserved for the most gravely ill, were being sent to less serious cases because there were no other ambulances available to respond to them.

Ambulance Employees Australia Victorian secretary Brett Adie reported that sometimes crews were waiting so long at hospitals that new staff had to be sent to relieve them.

“Then [they are] only getting to a couple of jobs during their shift as most of their shift is spent at hospital.”

But he burdened that this was occurring earlier than the pandemic, and the brand new challenges created by COVID-19 – together with furloughing of employees – had simply exacerbated current issues, necessitating extraordinary coping measures.

One of those has concerned deploying volunteers to fill shifts and drive ambulances.

The Age has beforehand reported sufferers have died after ready to be accepted by hospitals after arriving in an ambulance.

In December final yr, the final month information was publicly reported, virtually 35 per cent of ambulance transfers to emergency departments have been taking greater than 40 minutes.

This week the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine referred to as on the Victorian authorities to repair the foundation causes of ramping by delivering extra in-patient beds and employees throughout the well being system in order that extra assist is on the market exterior conventional enterprise hours, not simply in emergency departments.

“The Australian government also has a role to play in the solution to ramping in Victoria. Greater investment in the NDIS, aged care and mental health is required to ensure patients requiring these services can be discharged safely and promptly,” the faculty’s Victorian chair, Dr Mya Cubitt, mentioned.

In response to questions on ramping, a Victorian authorities spokesman highlighted a $1.4 billion well being bundle introduced in February, together with funding to help COVID-19 sufferers at house.

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