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Ambulance ramping surges

THERE are concerns Midland Hospital is struggling to cope with demand with new WA Health Department figures revealing ambulances were ramped outside WA hospitals for 2,180 hours in September, up on 794 hours recorded in September 2015.

The September surge follows on from August, which recorded 2,450 hours of ramping, the highest ever month of ramping on record. Shadow Health Minister Roger Cook said the extent of ramping at Midland Hospital was unacceptable.

“The new Midland and Fiona Stanley Hospitals were supposed to address the ambulance ramping crisis in Perth, but things appear to be getting worse,” he said.

“Midland Hospital appears to be struggling to cope with the demand for services.

“Our health system is under enormous pressure, with hospitals experiencing record ambulance ramping and massive waitlists.

“Hospital staff are doing everything they can, but they are not being given enough support by the WA Government.

“Providing quality healthcare is about more than just building new hospitals.

“You need to ensure that our hospitals are adequately resourced to cope with patient demand.”

Health Minister John Day said in recognition of the strong patient inflow at Midland Hospital the State Government has funded a 12 per cent increase in healthcare activity this financial year.

Mr Day said the cold winter had increased demand and an unusually high number of elderly patients had slowed turnover in emergency departments.

“Demand has been higher than predicted when the hospital opened, with up to 190 presentations a day over winter, but Midland, and WA hospitals overall, still lead the nation in treating or discharging ED patients within four hours,” he said.

Mr Day said the East Metropolitan Health Service was committed to reducing ambulance ramping.

“We have just experienced the coldest September in decades but ramping figures are now reducing,” he said.

“Throughput from EDs was slowed by a peak of 170 aged patients occupying metropolitan hospital beds.

“WA has the lowest ratio of community aged care beds in the nation and the Health Department are currently working with the Commonwealth to secure 75 new community beds.

“High-acuity patients are attended to quickly but what we do know is that approximately one quarter of people attending EDs have lower-needs category 4 and 5 conditions, such as colds, sprained ankles and minor injuries that can be treated by a GP.”

BY SARAH BROOKES

About Sarah Brookes

Sarah is an award-winning journalist (2016 WA Media Awards – Best Three Suburban Newspaper Stories) who has covered our Mundaring and Kalamunda editions since 2011. She went to Eastern Hills Senior High School before studying chemistry and biology at university. Staring down a microscope two years into her degree she realised a future in science wasn’t for her – journalism was. Sarah lived in Europe before re-settling in Darlington, where her family has lived for three generations, with her two children. She has worked for various government agencies and Media Monitors. Sarah is a media junkie who loves talkback radio and devours the weekend papers.

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