Hospital staff facing record emergency department demand

IPSWICH hospital's emergency department is struggling to keep up with demand.

New figures show ambulance ramping continues to plague the department, leaving paramedics standing in hallways for hours waiting for patients to be admitted.

The new data also shows the department's performance has improved, despite record high numbers of patients walking through the doors.

In January, 5618 people went to the Ipswich Hospital emergency department.

That's 323 more people than during January last year - a 6% increase in demand.

Of those 5618 people, 68 arrived in a life-threatening condition. All were seen within two minutes of arriving at the hospital.

Ipswich is facing unprecedented population growth with the city expected to be home to almost 600,000 people by 2036.

The LNP Opposition says Labor should fast track the planned Ipswich Hospital expansion to create more beds and boost resources to doctors and nurses. 

Overall, the Emergency Department's performance has improved, however, ambulance ramping continues.

Queensland Health sets guidelines for Emergency Department presentations via ambulance including that all patients should be admitted to the hospital within 30 minutes of arrival.

This allows paramedics to continue responding to jobs, rather than waiting with the patient.

In January, at least 15% of people who arrived at Ipswich Hospital via ambulance waited longer than 30 minutes to be admitted.

That's in improvement on February 2016 when 26.5% of patients waited longer than 30 minutes to be admitted and paramedics reported spending more than four hours waiting.

Ipswich Hospital Executive Director Luke Worth said hospital staff were dealing with more seriously ill patients than ever before.

According to Mr Worth, between January 2016 and January 2018, the number of Category 1 patients almost doubled - from 39 to 68.

The number of Category 2 patients jumped by more than 40% - from 715 to 1013.

"We make every effort to provide the best level of care to people within the shortest possible space of time," Mr Worth said.

"While all patients who attend an emergency department are assessed, those with minor ailments that could be treated by a GP or pharmacy will be asked to wait while clinicians prioritise those people with more life-threatening illnesses.

"At West Moreton we continuously review and analyse our performance to see where we can improve."

LNP Shadow Health Minister Ros Bates called on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to fast track the upgrade to Ipswich Hospital.   

"Ipswich Hospital needs more beds to stop the issues of bed block and shuffling of patients," Ms Bates said.  

"In order to make sure there are not large numbers of re-admissions, Labor needs to provide the nurses and doctors with better resources so they can plan for discharge on admission."


  • Sick and not sure where to go? Call 13 HEALTH to speak to a trained nurse


The state of ramping

Note: Under Queensland Health policy, emergency departments are expected to admit 90% of patients within 30 minutes of arrival at the hospital.

Ipswich Hospital

  • January 2018: 85% admitted within 30 minutes
  • February 2016: 73.5% admitted within 30 minutes

Logan Hospital

  • December 2017: 60% admitted within 30 minutes

(January not yet published online)

Lady Cilento Children's Hospital

  • January 2018: 94% admitted within 30 minutes

Gympie Hospital

  • January 2018: 84%

Toowoomba Hospital

  • January 2018: 92%


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