Dealing with year-round hospital demand

Demand in Adelaide’s hospitals is rising year-round, surging in what were previously quiet months.

New data shows more people presented to major metropolitan hospitals in the first three months of 2019 than the entire winter period in 2018.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said more than 107,000 people presented from January to March this year compared to just over 102,000 in the winter months last year.

“We know demand on public hospitals is increasing each year and what used to be seasonal demand is now year-round,” Minister Wade said.

“We treated almost 5,000 more patients in the first quarter of this year compared to last winter.

“Facing this reality, we are changing the way we manage demand and patient flow in our hospitals by launching a new hospital demand management plan.

“We need to ensure there’s a range of strategies in place to manage peaks in demand, no matter what season or time of the year it is.

“The new online portal will help South Australians to stay up-to-date throughout the year as we roll-out our strategies to manage demand in our hospitals.

“The portal will contain preventive measures for the community so that we can minimise illness throughout the year, as well as details of alternative care options for non-life threatening injuries and illnesses.”

Already this year, a range of innovative strategies have been implemented to ease pressure on emergency departments and deliver care closer to home for South Australians.

Minister Wade said the combination of additional hospital beds, hospital-avoidance pilot programs and community care alternatives are reducing pressure on hospitals.

“Through a concerted effort over the past three months, we have secured alternative accommodation and support services for 32 long stay patients waiting for National Disability Insurance Scheme. Together they had a combined length of stay of 5,225 days in hospital, or around five and a half months per patient,” Minister Wade said.

“More than 200 patients have been linked with enhanced out-of-hospital support in the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network through their new pilot program with RDNS.

“In the northern areas, 100 patients have been linked to GP and community services through a pilot program run by the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network with Pop-Up Community Care.

“In our central hospitals, we have commenced an out-of-hospital mental health program, and opened the 10 bed Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit at the RAH. Ten forensic mental health beds will open at Glenside in coming months.

“We are finalising the implementation of our new Priority Care Centres to provide patients presenting with low acuity conditions an alternative to visiting an emergency department.

“We have also opened more than 30 new beds, with 20 at the Repat site for long-stay patients, and 12 acute medicine beds at Noarlunga Hospital for appropriate direct admissions.

“All of these programs, combined with the ongoing hard work of our dedicated clinicians and staff across the health system, will ensure South Australians receive the appropriate care and treatment they need in a timely manner this winter and beyond.”

To view the new SA Health Hospital Demand Management Plan, go to

Number of people presenting to major metropolitan Emergency Departments:

Jun – Aug 2018: 102,171

Jan – Mar 2019: 107,053

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