Central Adelaide bed relocations won’t address increasing access block issues

In response to the recent changes to wards at the Royal Adelaide and Queen Elizabeth Hospitals, the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) is calling for consideration of access block issues.

“The phenomenon known as access block, which has been shown to result in poorer health outcomes, including longer hospital stays, increased errors in care and a greater likelihood of dying while in hospital, poses the largest threat to patients in health reforms across the country. Central hospitals are currently heavily affected by access block issues,” said ACEM President Professor Tony Lawler.

“We need to maintain a focus on ensuring all major health reforms place an emphasis on reducing access block within hospital systems - there is nothing more frustrating for a patient, their family or the staff who care for them in emergency departments to have to wait a long time to get a bed in a ward or further care.”
“This places huge pressure on staff and patients who struggle with hospital systems that already can’t cope with demand – quite simply, access block puts the lives of patients at risk,” Professor Lawler said.

Fellow of the South Australia Faculty of the College for Emergency Medicine, Dr Tom Soulsby urged the South Australian government to exercise caution in relocating wards.

“The recent public statements about the relocation of wards from the Royal Adelaide and Queen Elizabeth Hospitals places staff in emergency departments under further unnecessary pressure.”

“Whilst we support efforts to develop better 24/7 services in the north, removing beds in central Adelaide will have a profound impact on patient safety for patients at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. On most mornings we have an average of between 15-20 patients waiting for a bed in a ward - this number will only increase with the recent changes.”

Dr Soulsby welcomed the Government’s focus on health reform.

“We’re committed to working in partnership with the Government of South Australia under their Transforming Health reforms, and I’m pleased that a senior emergency consultant is contributing to the Transforming Health Ministerial Advisory Group. We all want the same outcomes from these changes, and it’s crucial that emergency departments continue to be consulted as the reforms are rolled out.”

“We will continue to advocate strongly for a system that puts the patient first," Dr Soulsby said, "Once a patient is seen in an Adelaide emergency department they need to be transferred as efficiently as possible to their next point of care within the hospital, of which properly resourced wards are an integral part.”

Professor Anthony Lawler - ACEM President - 0418 104 224

Dr Tom Soulsby - SA Faculty Chair - 0434 494 212

Fin Bird - ACEM Media Contact - +61 439 388 251