Ambulance concerns after Ballarat hospital limits reached

By Jennifer Greive
Updated November 2 2012 - 7:58am, first published February 10 2012 - 3:13am
Ambulance concerns after Ballarat hospital limits reached

SEVEN ambulances – including a MICA Unit and a Single Response Unit – were forced to wait outside the Ballarat Base Hospital yesterday afternoon, after the emergency department reached full capacity due to too many patients arriving in a short time period.The situation was exacerbated by St John of God Hospital declaring an ambulance bypass because of bed shortages, which meant all ambulances were diverted to Ballarat Health Services.One paramedic, who wished to remain anonymous, said his unit had arrived at the Ballarat Base Hospital at 2.30pm to find six other units already there.He said the hospital had admitted critical patients, but several ambulances remained ramped up half an hour later.“They’ve been able to clear one of the MICA crews, but there’s still a MICA crew tied up inside,” he said.Ambulance Union state secretary Steve McGhie said all of Ballarat’s MICA resources and most of its ambulance crew had been tied up at the hospital, unable to respond to cases.“In total, there would have only been six crews this afternoon in Ballarat and there are seven ambulances ramped up at the hospital,” he said.“That means you’ve got all of Ballarat and Daylesford uncovered.”Mr McGhie said ambulance ramping was not unique to Ballarat.“There are pressures on regional hospitals – demand is massively increasing and that would explain why regional hospitals go on bypass,” he said.“The demand’s greater, there’s not enough beds and that means ambulances are tied up unnecessarily with patients on ambulance trolleys waiting for beds to become available.“The system is not getting better and that’s evident to paramedics – we’re seeing this happen right across the state.”Ballarat Health Services CEO Andrew Rowe said Ballarat Health Services had one of the best-performing emergency departments in the state, with minimal instances of ambulance ramping.“Ballarat Health Services was not on bypass and never goes on bypass,” he said.“With St John of God (hospital) being on bypass, that has meant that patients presenting to the ED at St John’s (sic) have been referred to Ballarat Health Services.“Consequently, that has meant that the workload at the Ballarat Health Services ED had been substantially greater.”

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