SA Govt yet to offer genuine solutions to acute hospital access crisis

The Australasian College for Emergency (ACEM; the College) is calling for the South Australian Government to offer genuine and systemic improvements to address the state’s acute hospital access crisis.

The call comes as the state’s emergency departments (EDs) continue to come under immense pressure while the government focuses primarily on reannouncements of previous plans to expand emergency department capacity.

ACEM South Australia Faculty Chair Dr Mark Morphett said, “Government responses to the escalating crisis have continually fallen short of addressing the root systemic causes of the dangerous bottlenecks being experienced in South Australian EDs.”

“Whole-of-health system issues are the problem, and it is these systemic issues which need to be addressed.

“Simply making space for more people to be treated in EDs will do little to address the real causes, which, overwhelmingly, are delays in admitting patients needing further care from EDs to inpatient hospital beds or other care options. We need clear pathways, not only into EDs, but out as well.

“Recent government initiatives, such as priority care centres, do little to alleviate the bottlenecks our EDs are experiencing for our sickest patients who need admission.

“Properly resourced and staffed inpatient beds are part of the solution, but we also urgently need solutions which take a whole-of-system approach. This should include a focus on workforce sustainability and improving out-of-office hours access to other hospital services and specialities, including advanced diagnostics.”

ACEM President Dr John Bonning said, “South Australian emergency clinicians are growing increasingly tired and frustrated at government failures to offer genuine solutions.”

“This is not some post COVID lockdown surge or blip. The situation being faced in South Australia is the continuation of a situation which has been consistently compounding and worsening for years, with presentations to emergency departments continuing to climb, worsening inability to admit patients in a reasonable timeframe and the system not keeping up with demand.

“Frustratingly, this is predictable and should have been planned for.

“These pressures are also not the result of ‘GP type’ patients presenting to the ED, as such patients presenting to emergency departments are relatively straightforward to treat and do not require significant resources nor admission to hospital.

“To fix the situation, the government must focus on the entire system, and address the root systemic causes of the bottlenecks South Australia’s emergency departments are facing.”

Background:

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

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