Vic govt unveils emergency dept changes

News.com.au
  • NOVEMBER 09, 2013

VICTORIAN hospitals will take immediate charge of ambulance patients when they arrive in a bid to cut paramedic response times and ambulances queuing at hospitals.

Health Minister David Davis says allowing ambulance crews to leave patients in the care of hospitals once they arrive will allow them to respond to others needing emergency care.

“This will release ambulances and enable paramedics and others to respond to calls and result in better outcomes for patients,” Mr Davis told reporters.

Mr Davis says the measures, recommended by a health industry task force appointed by the government in July, will avoid ambulances queuing at hospitals waiting to offload patients into emergency.

The practice, known as “ramping”, has been blamed for increasing ambulance wait times.

Mr Davis says the changes will more clearly define responsibilities between Ambulance Victoria and emergency departments, and improve communication so emergency departments know when patients are on the way.

It will also lead to less hospital bypass, he says.

Hospitals will have to determine how to deal with emergency patients efficiently and it could mean discharging other patients earlier, he says.

“It may be they need to look at who can be discharged appropriately, it might mean they need to bring in an additional staff member,” he says.

Ambulance Victoria CEO Greg Sassella welcomed the reforms as commonsense.

“What this means at the end of the day is we can get our paramedics to attend people who are in a public place who are otherwise undiagnosed, uncared for,” he told reporters.

“Anything that means we can be free of being in an ED is a good thing.”

But Opposition leader Daniel Andrews says handballing the problem from paramedics to hospitals will do nothing to unclog emergency departments and provide extra beds.

“If there is no bed in the emergency department for those patients, and we know there are less beds today than there were three years ago, then rather than having ambulances filling the car parks of our hospitals, we’ll have patients filling the car parks of our hospitals,” he told reporters.

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