Quality patient outcomes is the main game

The peak body for emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand says quality patient outcomes must be the focus of the McGowan government despite the state of WA’s finances.

Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) President Professor Tony Lawler said: “Patient outcomes should be the primary driving force in healthcare, and the College is keen to work with Premier Mark McGowan and Health Minister Roger Cook to ensure quality, patient-focused emergency care is not compromised.”

Access block and overcrowding

ACEM WA Faculty Chair, Associate Professor David Mountain, said the College has repeatedly identified access block and overcrowding as the biggest issues facing WA hospitals, with emergency departments in crisis.

Access block occurs when patients have to stay longer in the emergency department because there aren’t beds in wards of the hospital.

“We recognise there are no quick and cheap solutions to access block and overcrowding but that does not mean we should give up on ideas on how to build capacity in our system,” Associate Professor Mountain said.

“With long waiting times for beds a common occurrence and ACEM about to publish new figures which will reveal a deterioration in conditions in WA, it is vitally important that we get the right outcome.”

Associate Professor Mountain said the $2 million investment to start establishing urgent care centres was not the solution.

“They are unlikely to provide much benefit to WA patients,” he said. “The fact is, there’s little evidence any of these approaches have any meaningful effect on the level of overcrowding that we’re seeing in our hospitals and emergency departments.”

Mental health services

Associate Professor Mountain said high quality mental health services are essential both in emergency departments and across the rest of the health system, to help confront this growing issue.

“The emergency department is not the place for patients who are experiencing mental illness,” he said.

“We welcome the commitments in today’s Budget, including an extra $61 million over four years, but urge services and infrastructure to be targeted at those most in need and to be evidence-based.”


Associate Professor Mountain noted the great work being undertaken by FACEM Amanda Stafford at the Royal Perth Hospital to help people experiencing homelessness who are increasingly presenting at hospital emergency departments.

“People experiencing homelessness should not have to resort to the emergency department for shelter, and we call on Government, social services providers and all healthcare stakeholders to continue efforts to understand the patterns of prevalence of homelessness in order to find possible solutions to assist this vulnerable population,” he said.


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