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The Colleges warn that for various reasons, including COVID-19, increased demand for hospital beds and resignations of experienced healthcare workers, hospitals are under unprecedented pressure. Hospital staff are stretched to the limit after 20 months of the pandemic and are working in busy EDs while fully clad in PPE, due to COVID-19.
A surge of avoidable ED presentations, such as those related to alcohol, could push healthcare systems and staff to breaking point particularly in popular regional holiday areas, such as Far North Queensland, Tasmania and Byron Bay.
At peak times like weekend nights, up to one in five people in EDs are there due to alcohol or drugs, and ACEM and CENA warn that these easily avoidable presentations use up critical resources that could be used to help others.
This summer, the Colleges urge people to enjoy the holidays but to make smart and safe choices and help support the staff who care for you and your family when you need it the most.
ACEM President Dr Clare Skinner said, “Enjoy yourselves, but don’t be too silly this season. Be sun-smart and safe around water. Keep a close eye on your kids – watch out for small toys or button batteries which might be chewed or swallowed. Drink alcohol in moderation and avoid drugs. Stay safe on the road, be patient, follow the rules and don’t drive when you are tired or have had a few drinks. Be careful with ladders – so many ED presentations are due to
falling from a height.”
“Be prepared when you travel – take your medications, inhalers and prescriptions with you. Carry a summary of your medical history, including contact details for your usual care providers. Have a plan, in advance, about how to seek medical help, if you require it while away.”
“Stay in touch with neighbours and friends – remember that Christmas time can feel lonely and isolated for many members of the community. Seek emotional and psychological support when you need it.”
“If you haven’t already, please get vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID-19 will be present in many communities this summer, and vaccination significantly reduces your chance of becoming seriously unwell and requiring hospitalisation. Please be COVID-19 safe and follow public health advice. Unfortunately, the pandemic is not yet over.”
College of Emergency Nursing Australasia President-Elect Wayne Varndell said, “Enjoy the festive season but plan ahead. Look after yourself, look out for others, and keep everyone safe and well.”
“Please think of us, working in emergency. While everyone else is at the beach, we are at work in busy EDs, wearing full PPE, providing care to people with acute illness or injuries.”
“We are here to care for you when you need us, but a good holiday hopefully does not include a trip to the ED.”

Media Contact:
Melissa Howard [email protected] 0427 621 857