Although all patients in immediate need of lifesaving care were seen within two minutes, some patients facing
Although all patients in immediate need of lifesaving care were seen within two minutes, some patients facing "imminent” and "potential” death had to wait. FILE

Bundaberg Hospital ED patients kept waiting

ONE quarter of the people with "imminently life-threatening” conditions fronting our emergency departments last month were not treated as quickly as they should have been.

Although all patients in immediate need of lifesaving care were seen within two minutes, some patients facing "imminent” and "potential” death had to wait.

WAITING GAME: Stats for Bundaberg Hospital's ED in December.
WAITING GAME: Stats for Bundaberg Hospital's ED in December. Source: Queensland Health

Last month 26 per cent of emergency department patients with "imminently life-threatening” needs were not seen within the recommended 10 minutes.

Similarly, 24 per cent of patients with "potentially life-threatening” needs had to wait more than the recommended 30 minutes.

No patients with immediately life-threatening needs were made to wait more than the recommended two minutes.

Overall, Queensland Health figures show in December 2017, 27 per cent of emergency department patients were not seen within the recommended time. This was an improvement on the 32 per cent in November 2017.

Australian Medical Association Queensland vice president Jim Finn said hospitals needed more resources to minimise wait times.

"(Wait times can be improved) by having adequate resources within the emergency department and adequate beds available within the hospital to accept admitted patients from the emergency department,” he said.

"The number of presentations fluctuates from month to month because of influenza and other diseases varying throughout the year and also non-predictable random variation.”

Dr Finn said better non-hospital options also reduced the pressure on emergency departments as patients could attend their GP for cases that were not as time-sensitive.

Acting Health Minister Shannon Fentiman said life-threatening emergency department presentations increased 9 per cent in 2016-17.

"Paramedics and our emergency department clinicians work tirelessly to make sure critically ill people were seen on time. They do a tremendous job of taking care of Queenslanders when we're sick.

"Queensland is leading Australia with emergency access targets by using an evidence-based and clinically supported approach to monitor the performance of emergency departments in Queensland.”

Ms Fentiman said 2017's serious flu season contributed to higher emergency department presentations, even in the summer months.

"There is no doubt last year's flu season contributed to a busy time for hospital staff across Queensland. More than 55,000 (55,723 as at December 19) cases of flu were confirmed in Queensland last year - more than three times higher than the five-year average.”

LNP leader Deb Frecklington said Queenslanders deserved a "world-class” health system they could rely on.

"The health budget increased by 8.5 per cent last year and yet patient numbers increased by only 5 per cent,” she said.

"Wait times should be dramatically improving but yet lazy Labor doesn't have a plan.”

"Our nurses, doctors and paramedics need more assistance to improve wait times. Labor needs to have targeted resources and a plan to provide better health services for Queenslanders.

"Rather than blaming the patients, the new Health Minister needs to get on with the job he is paid to do.” -NewsRegional



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