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QLD government forced to release emergency funds to free up private hospital beds

Photo: Qld public hospital beds at capacity
Southeast Queensland hospitals are at capacity, forcing the state government to release emergency funds to free up private beds.

There are no empty beds in adult emergency departments in southeast Queensland but the state's chief health officer denies there's a crisis and says anyone who needs care will get it.

Beds in ten hospitals in the region - with the exception of the Queensland Children's Hospital - were full on Tuesday night.

Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Health Minister Steven Miles have blamed a surge in flu cases, a longer, hotter summer, and the federal government.

Ms Palaszczuk says SEQ hospitals are under strain because 250 elderly people are ready to be discharged to aged care facilities but have nowhere to go.
"There are another 400 people who are NDIS eligible who are also ready for discharge," she told state parliament on Wednesday.

This, coupled with an up to ten per cent rise in admissions, has forced the state government to cough up $3 million in emergency funds to free up 50 private hospital beds.

However, the beds may not be available for a few days.

Liberal National Party MPs laughed when the health minister told parliament the throng of patients presenting to emergency departments was unseasonal and unprecedented.

The LNP has for the past year called on the government to do more to address ambulance ramping at Queensland hospitals.

"What we are seeing in southeast Queensland today is nothing short of a national embarrassment," party leader Deb Frecklington said.

"This is a direct result of poor planning, economic mismanagement and a health minister who is clearly out of his depth."

Mr Miles is urging Queenslanders to refrain from going to an emergency department unless they are in genuine need of emergency treatment.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young on Wednesday warned patients in emergency departments faced lengthy delays and only the most urgent elective surgeries would be considered.

However, she denied the system was in crisis.

"It's not a crisis because we're responding to it," Dr Young told ABC radio.

"Anyone who needs care today in our public health system will get it."

President of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine Simon Judkins said patients' lives were at risk if there wasn't an urgent overhaul of the system.

He pointed to the case of a 23-year-old man who was charged with assault after allegedly stabbing two Logan Hospital security guards at the weekend while seeking emergency mental health care.

"Incidents like this have to drive real change, and more needs to be done to understand the causes of violence in emergency departments and to resource emergency departments to prevent violence and minimise its impact," he said.

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