SA Health has issued a directive ordering state hospitals to ensure that no ambulance transport exceeds one hour.
- Ramping outside Adelaide hospitals was among the worst recorded in August and September
- COVID-19 cases have been detected on arrivals between countries
- SA Health has ordered hospitals to receive patients quickly
The health system has dealt with an ongoing crisis in which some patients spent five hours in the back of an ambulance earlier in the week.
The direction, issued by SA Health CEO Chris McGowan yesterday, said that 75 percent of transfers to emergency departments from ambulances must be completed within 30 minutes of an ambulance arrival.
South Australian Salaried Medical Officers Association former president David Pope said the direction was outrageous.
“All it achieves is to turn on the staff,” said Dr. Pope.
“The doctors and everyone else in the hospitals are working extremely hard under enormous pressure, in extremely crowded and busy environments.”
Bad ramp ahead of expected COVID-19 increase
Statistics released by SA Health last week showed that August and September were two of the worst months of ramping ever.
The data showed that patients in state public hospitals suffered 2,727 hours of delayed care in August and 2,472 hours in September.
SA Health predicts an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations after the state opened its borders with NSW, Victoria and ACT on Tuesday.
Already, five cases have been discovered in intergovernmental and international arrivals since then.
Dr. Pope said that dr. McGowan’s guide showed “a high level of naivety about the state of our health system and what can be done”.
“The fact that the CEO of health thinks this is a reasonable thing to do at all is just extraordinary, and it puts even more pressure on a system that is already falling apart because of that pressure,” said Dr. . Pope.
The direction also called for patients who moved between hospitals by ambulance to go directly to their ward instead of via the emergency room.
In an email to staff, Dr. McGowan that 392 new beds and plans to recruit new staff provided a “unique opportunity to break through barriers across the system that could result in congestion in the emergency department and ambulance ramp”.
“Our patients and the South Australian community want and expect us to do everything we can to provide the highest level of care when people need it, and to manage demand across their public health system,” he said. .
The problem extends to the children’s hospital
The first pictures of ramps at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital appeared on Tuesday.
According to the Ambulance Employees’ Association, by 8 pm that night, six vehicles had been hit outside the hospital.
The union said some children had to wait for care for more than an hour.
Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas said it raised several questions about whether the hospital system was ready for COVID-19 cases.
“Children in the back of ambulances in their times of need are wholeheartedly unacceptable, especially given the [Premier] Steven Marshall was warned about this recently by senior clinicians at that hospital, “he said.
“They needed more resources.”
The premiere said most cases at the hospital were treated quickly.
“I think there was something like 30 or 35 presentations there … and of those, only one was seen outside the clinically appropriate times, and that was after 10 minutes,” Mr Marshall said.
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