Gladstone Hospital not seeing 25.7 per cent of patients in time
Gladstone’s new $42 million Emergency Department hasn’t improved hospital performance, with more than 25 per cent of patients not being seen in the recommended timeframe.
Queensland Health data revealed on Monday shows the number of patients not seen in Gladstone Emergency Department in the recommended time frame during the December quarter has jumped by 7.7 per cent, to 25.7 per cent, since 2019.
In 2019, doctors and nurses at Gladstone Hospital were working in the old Emergency Department, before the new $42 million section opened in August 2020.
In addition to delays in seeing patients, Ambulance ramping – the delay in offloading patients to Gladstone Hospital had increased by 9 per cent, to 14 per cent of patients, ramped in the past year.
Shadow Health Minister Ros Bates said these statistics were exposing the shocking state of Queensland’s public health system.
“It’s unacceptable that patients taken to Gladstone Hospital in an ambulance are forced to wait
longer than the recommended time frame, while a quarter of people have to wait longer than
the recommended time frame in the emergency department,” she said.
“The Health Minister needs to explain to locals why standards are slipping and how she plans
to fix it.
“As a nurse, I know how exhausting it can be for doctors and nurses working long hours under immense pressure on the frontline.”
Ms Bates said a lack of staff resourcing was to blame for the delays.
“Gladstone residents deserve a world class health system, not second-rate healthcare,” she said.
“The Minister must urgently travel to the region and listen to staff and outline her plan to
improve wait times.”
Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service chief executive Steve Williamson said in December, due to the nature of emergencies, they could be challenging and difficult to plan for.
Mr Williamson and Queensland Ambulance Service Deputy Commissioner Statewide Operations Dee Taylor Dutton said an increase in activity and acuity at Gladstone hospital in recent months had led to more pressure on services.
“Our Emergency Department team at Gladstone hospital are highly skilled and dedicated health professionals that work extremely hard every day for their communities,” Mr Williamson said.
“Emergencies by their very nature can’t be planned; they’re always unexpected events and
therefore there are peaks and troughs of activity for many reasons.”
Ms Taylor Dutton said comprehensive data sharing between the Queensland Ambulance Service and Queensland Health ensured the best available treatment for patients.
Ms Taylor Dutton stressed no patients were left waiting in the back of ambulances for treatment.
“QAS and Queensland Health work collaboratively to ensure patient safety and safe transfer of patients from an ambulance stretcher into the care of the hospital’s emergency department,” she said.
“There is a strong relationship between the paramedic and the triage nurse in helping them understand the criticality of the patients condition, and patients are offloaded very quickly if their condition warrants it.”
The triage process, where patients are assessed based on their clinical needs, can cause delays for less serious patients.
“Patients are triaged according to their level of clinical need, whether they arrive by ambulance or in person,” Mr Williamson said.
“This ensures the most seriously sick or injured patients get the treatment they need to ensure everyone gets the best possible outcome.”
A variety of reasons were behind increased presentations, Mr Williamson said.
“There has been a general increase in activity and acuity in the past few months in Gladstone, however there is no common cause for the presentations, which have been for a variety of reasons,” he said.