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  • Health system under pressure as hospital data released

    Author: AAP

Nearly half the patients arriving by ambulance to Queensland emergency departments are waiting more than 30 minutes on stretchers to be admitted.

The latest public hospital performance data for January, February and March, showed 54.5 per cent of patients were transferred from an ambulance to the emergency department in under half an hour, down from 57.1 per cent in the last quarter of 2023.

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Queensland Health Minister Shannon Fentiman said emergency departments had been flooded with patients, particularly over the summer months.

There were more than 600,000 presentations to emergency departments across the state between January to March - an extra 33,000 people compared to the same period in 2023.

Calls to triple zero rose 7.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2024 and ambulance arrivals also increased in the same period, by 4.4 per cent.


Frontline Health Auckland
Sunshine Coast Radiology
Radiologist - Rockhampton
Central Queensland Radiology

"Of course we want to see ambulance ramping improve but the fact that more than 4000 patients are getting off the stretcher within 30 minutes than they were this time last year does show we are improving," Ms Fentiman said.

"There's just a huge amount of people arriving."

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Maria Boulton says the health workforce across Queensland's emergency departments is stretched.

"One of the recommendations of our AMA Queensland ramping roundtable was that hospitals should normally function at 90 per cent capacity so there is a little bit of leeway when you get surges," she told AAP.

"That's not what happens, normally hospitals work at 100 per cent plus capacity so there's really no give in the system."

About 80 per cent of people waiting for elective surgeries were treated within the recommended time frame in the first quarter of 2024.

Dr Boulton said it was positive to see a slight improvement in waiting times for elective surgeries but the data shows many regional Queenslanders are left waiting too long.

"Nearly 40 per cent of Mackay patients were forced to wait longer than recommended time according to the government's latest data," she said.

"Central Queensland and Townsville also continued to experience longer wait times than their metropolitan counterparts during this period."

Dr Boulton said she's concerned the winter months could put more stress on the system and blow out wait times.

"We're seeing an uptick in COVID cases, we're seeing an increase in people presenting with influenza, RSV, mycoplasma, whooping cough, and it's still quite early in the season," she said.

"That's going to put a further strain in the system."


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