Patients sent away

IPSWICH Hospital's Emergency Department was on bypass 11 times in July this year for a total of more than 57 hours, according to State Opposition figures.

The LNP's Shadow Health Minister Mark McArdle said paramedics were told on those occasions to avoid the Emergency Department (ED) because it was too full.

But the Ipswich Hospital said the ED is always ready to receive and treat critically ill patients and no one in need of urgent medical assistance is turned away.

Mr McArdle said the bypass warnings were emailed to paramedics and were obtained by a Right to Information request.

“These emails reveal that the Ipswich Hospital Emergency Department was on bypass on 11 separate occasions for more than 57 hours in total in July 2010 – meaning paramedics with sick patients were diverted to other hospitals,” he said.

He said on 20 separate occasions in July, the ED issued “extreme capacity” alert emails totalling more than 169 hours.

“In October 2010, 26 per cent of patients at the Ipswich Emergency Department waited eight hours or more before admission to a bed and ambulances spent 247 hours ramping,” Mr McArdle said.

A Queensland Health spokesperson said during the month of July, the Ipswich Hospital continued to receive patients every hour of every day.

“The average wait time for patients to be seen at Ipswich Hospital was 64 minutes. Every Category 1 patient (most urgent) was attended to within one minute of arrival,” the spokesperson said.

There are two key strategies for ensuring doctors and nurses continue to tend to patients in the ED in a timely way; building bigger EDs and sharing the patient load by diverting less urgent patients for treatment at other EDs at times of peak demand, the spokesperson said.

“The bypass figures show that at Ipswich Hospital, during the very busy winter flu season, that happened approximately 7 per cent of the time.”

“A tender was recently put out seeking a managing contractor for the $128.7 million Ipswich Hospital expansion, which will expand the ED and deliver 90 extra beds.

Mr McArdle said the LNP would stop ED blockages by spending taxpayers' dollars better and by giving doctors and nurses more say on how hospitals run.



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