Positive action must match positive rhetoric to bring about real improvements

The peak body for emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand calls on SA Health to invest in urgent action that will bring about positive improvement for patients in emergency departments.

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) President Professor Tony Lawler said: “SA Health’s recently announced plans to address pressures facing emergency departments will amount to nothing if real action does not occur to confront the ongoing, cultural and systemic issues that exist in the health system.

“Patient outcomes should be the primary driving force in healthcare, and our members in South Australia are gravely concerned about the current environment of acute health care which could result in adverse outcomes for patients.

“The College is keen to work with Premier Jay Weatherill, Health Minister Jack Snelling and SA Health chief executive Vickie Kaminski to ensure quality, patient-focused emergency care is not compromised.”

Access block and overcrowding

The College has repeatedly identified chronic access block and overcrowding as the biggest issues facing SA hospitals.

ACEM is about to publish new figures which will reveal a deterioration in conditions in SA, thus throwing into doubt patients’ ability to receive quality, timely care.

Access block occurs when patients have to stay longer in the emergency department because there aren’t beds in wards of the hospital. It illustrates a problem with the whole hospital system.

It is important that excess demand is spread more evenly throughout the hospital so people do not get stuck in emergency departments.

ACEM SA Faculty Board member Dr Mark Morphett said: “The health crisis currently being experienced in South Australia is an acute exacerbation of a chronic problem in this state. While events such as a worse than usual flu season and the move to the nRAH may contribute to our current problems, it is important to understand that bed closures as part of Transforming Health, efficiency losses linked to the introduction of EPAS and increases in activity and acuity over years have greatly impacted on our ability to manage any surge in demand on the system.

“While measures announced yesterday by SA Health, such as increased resourcing for Extended Care Paramedics have merit, without adequately addressing the problems of access block and acute care bed shortages across Adelaide, we will not fix the current situation and patients will remain at risk.”

Professor Lawler added: “Emergency doctors care deeply for the health and wellbeing of South Australians. Patients that come through the doors of emergency departments deserve the opportunity to experience quality care, in a timely manner and with the greatest chance of positive outcomes.”


Andre Khoury
ACEM Public Affairs Manager
03 8679 8813
0498 068 023
[email protected]