New plan to ease hospital demand

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

SA Health has today announced a new plan aimed at reducing pressure on busy hospital emergency departments.

Under the plan, ambulances will only attend urgent cases, all non-urgent elective surgeries will be postponed and some patients will be admitted directly to hospital wards, bypassing hospital EDs.

SA Health Chief Executive, Vickie Kaminski, said the measures were necessary to meet the high number of presentations to metropolitan emergency departments over the past week.

“Over the past week there were 8,538 presentations to our hospital emergency departments,” Ms Kaminski said.

“This unprecedented demand has placed considerable pressure on our EDs and the SA Ambulance Service, which is why we are implementing these important strategies.

“From today, patients who are assessed as not requiring hospital or paramedic care will be advised of alternative care options, including visiting a GP clinic or pharmacy.

“For some patients not requiring paramedic support, the Royal District Nursing Service will also be able to provide in home support.

“This will see fewer ambulances going to our hospital EDs, and ensure they’re available to respond to the most urgent cases.

“Under the plan, each hospital is also postponing all non-urgent surgeries and flexing up as many beds as possible.

“Where appropriate some patients will be directly admitted into a bed rather than going through ED, and patients may also be relocated to peri-urban hospitals where it is safe to do so.

“I want to acknowledge those patients who may be impacted and thank them for their understanding at this time.

“I would also like to thank all the doctors, nurses, paramedics and allied health staff across our system for their hard work during this busy period.”

SA Ambulance Chief Executive Officer, Jason Killens, said the additional temporary ambulance response measures announced today were similar to those already permanently in place in other jurisdictions including Victoria and Tasmania.

“The number of people both requiring an ambulance and presenting to our hospital emergency departments has significantly increased over recent weeks,” Mr Killens said.

“These measures are necessary to maintain our ability to respond to the sickest patients first.

“For those patients who are not assessed as urgent, our specially-trained extended care paramedics and other clinicians will provide advice and support over the phone instead of sending an emergency ambulance and may suggest alternative care options.

“This in turn will allow our paramedics and EDs to deal with the most urgent cases.”

The plan’s measures include:

  • Ambulances to only attend urgent cases that are assessed as requiring hospital or paramedic care
  • RDNS to provide in-home support for some patients not requiring an ambulance
  • Where appropriate patients to be directly admitted into a bed bypassing the emergency department
  • Criteria-led nurse discharge utilised to safely free up hospital beds as early as possible
  • Postponement of all non-urgent elective surgery
  • Relocating appropriate patients to peri-urban or country hospitals
  • Re-establishing the RAH control centre to oversee patient flow to peri-urban hospital
  • Opening all available beds and purchasing additional capacity from Private Hospitals where available

South Australians are also reminded to use their General Practitioner, pharmacist or call Health Direct (1800 022 222) for minor illnesses, like a cough or cold.

However anyone that is in an emergency or life threatening situation should always call triple zero (000) or present at an emergency department as soon as possible.

The State Government recently announced $1.1 billion in additional health funding that includes expanding emergency departments at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, Flinders Medical Centre and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

^ Back to top