Ambulances at Ipswich Hospital.
Ambulances at Ipswich Hospital.

Patients left waiting as ramping rates increase at Ipswich

THE NUMBER of people presenting to West Moreton Hospitals with life-threatening injuries or illnesses rose by more than 50 per cent in February, compared to the same month the year before.

There were 74 category 1 presentations in February 2020, compared to 47 in February 2019.

According to West Moreton Hospital and Health, at Ipswich Hospital alone, there were 63 Category 1 presentations in February 2020 compared with 44 in February 2019.

As the number of presentations rose, so too did the ambulance ramping rate at Ipswich which hit 35 per cent according to Queensland Health's performance website.

Ambulance ramping refers to when patients are left waiting for more than 30 minutes in the back of an ambulance because the emergency department is full.

The LNP claims it was at 29 per cent in February 2019.

Leader of the Opposition Deb Frecklington said it was a sign the health system was struggling.

"Queenslanders deserve a world-class public health system, that Labor hasn't been delivering," she said.

"Ambulance ramping was at record levels before coronavirus began, in another symptom of a health system in crisis.

"The LNP will put patients first and ensure our hard working frontline nurses, paramedics, midwives and doctors have the resources they need.

"The LNP will restore performance targets to drive better outcomes."

Ipswich Hospital Executive Director Michael Lewczuk said while West Moreton Health had experienced a large increase in emergency department activity in the past year, it continued to treat the sickest within recommended time frames.

"Presentations at West Moreton Health hospital emergency departments increased by 11 per cent in February 2020 compared with February 2019," he said.

He said 100 per cent of category one patients were treated within two minutes.

"Under the Australasian Triage Scale, these are the patients that must be treated first, and they are," Mr Lewczuk said.

"We are actively working in partnership with the Queensland Ambulance Service to improve patient flow into the Emergency Department.

"There are several initiatives being undertaken by Ipswich Hospital to improve patient flow through the entire hospital which will impact patients' estimated length of stay (ELOS) in the Emergency Department.

"This has included ELOS reviews with clinical leads, promoting a safe, timely discharge target across the hospital and reviewing models of care within emergency."

While Quenesland Health's performance website shows the patient off stretcher time was 65 per cent within 30 minutes in February 2020, a West Moreton Hospital Health spokesperson said it was 70.6 per cent within 30 minutes, and 79 per cent in February 2019.

Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard was contacted for comment.

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