Rob Williams

Hospitals must improve emergency depts as flu season bites

HOSPITALS across the state are being told to focus on improving their emergency departments and avoid having ambulances queued with patients inside, also known as "ramping".

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said the direction -- which includes regional Queensland sites -- comes as Brisbane grapples with a challenging flu season.

"What this is about is getting patients who arrive by ambulance seen as quickly as possible, and freeing up paramedics sooner" said Mr Dick.

The directive requires Health services to:

• Ensure 90 per cent of patients arriving at Emergency Departments by ambulance will be received into the appropriate Emergency Department treatment area within 30 minutes

• Assume 24 hour responsibility for Emergency Department access.

• Provide a single point of contact for the Queensland Ambulance Service to enable Emergency Department access issues to be addressed 24 hours/day.

• Ensure "ambulance bypass" is not utilised except in the event of an internal or external disaster.

• Optimise patient flow and bed management strategies by actively utilising predictive bed management tools and patient flow management systems.

• Ensure triage staff undertake mandatory training to clarify the roles and scope of practice for Queensland Ambulance Service staff.

• Ensure all patients arriving by ambulance are triaged on arrival when clinically appropriate.

• Ensure no patient is returned to the ambulance after triage.

Mr Dick said reinstating the directive was a first step, and that the government  will consult with the Queensland Ambulance Service, the Queensland Nurses Union, United Voice and health services on further initiatives to improve the operation of Emergency Departments across the State.

This could include greater use of telehealth services and access to better referral options for GP services, where it is safe to do so.

"If you are unsure, you can call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) any time of the day or night to get advice from a Registered Nurse about your health."

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