The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM; the College) acknowledges today’s commitment from the Queensland Government in response to the state’s acute hospital access crisis.
The announced investments in additional beds and other care options have the potential to help partially address the immediate whole-of-healthcare system issues that are currently embodied in dangerous bottlenecks in the state’s emergency departments.
ACEM President Dr John Bonning said while the government commitment may have some impact in alleviating the immediate crisis – provided the additional resourcing is properly allocated –, focus must remain on implementing systemic solutions to the pressures being faced by Queensland emergency departments.
“The bottlenecks being experienced in emergency departments are happening because of systemic issues causing delays in admitting patients needing further care from emergency departments to inpatient hospital beds or other care options. This is not a blip nor a post covid lockdown surge. It is the continuation of trends we have been seeing for years, with presentation numbers going up and up.
“These pressures are also not the result of ‘GP type’ patients presenting to the ED, which is a public narrative still being frustratingly peddled. Such patients presenting to emergency departments are relatively straightforward to treat and do not require significant resources nor admission to hospital.
“While investment in new beds and other care options may have some impact, it will be very important to ensure there is a corresponding investment in staffing, to ensure beds can open as soon as possible and remain available to Queenslanders.
“It is also important to ensure the new beds are established across entire hospitals and the health system to help alleviate emergency department bottlenecks, by improving patient flow to inpatient wards. Pressure needs to be alleviated at the back door of the ED, not just at the front door.”
In acknowledging today’s announcement ACEM Queensland Faculty Chair Dr Kim Hansen said there was an ongoing need to address systemic issues contributing to emergency department bottlenecks and pressures.
“This should include a focus on sustainable workforce solutions and improving out-of-office hours access to other healthcare options and specialties, to help alleviate pressures currently being carried by emergency departments.
“What we are experiencing in emergency departments is the result of complex whole-of-system issues, requiring complex solutions. There is an opportunity here for visionary, holistic improvements, which should include innovative new models of care.
“We look forward to hearing more about how and when these new measures announced today will be implemented, and how the government will continue working towards the system wide improvements to our healthcare system that Queenslanders need and deserve.”
ACEM is the peak body for emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand, responsible for training emergency physicians and advancement of professional standards. www.acem.org.au