Access block, defined as the situation where a patient who needs a hospital bed is delayed for more than eight hours in the emergency department (ED), is one of the greatest challenges facing the health system today, and the findings and recommendations of the report affirm this.
As the Committee has found, access block is the root cause of ambulance ramping, hospital overcrowding, unacceptable treatment delays and healthcare worker burnout. These factors lead to patient harm, including preventable clinical deterioration and sometimes death.
The report’s findings reflect ACEM’s long-held position that both ambulance ramping and access block are symptoms of a health system under pressure, and that whole-of-system interventions are required. While the inquiry and report focused on the NSW health system, many of its findings and recommendations are also relevant to other Australian states and territories.
The College thanks the NSW Parliament for their attention to this critical issue, and with next year’s state election approaching, the College calls on all parties campaigning for office to read the report and to commit to implementing all twelve recommendations.
ACEM President, Dr Clare Skinner, said, “ACEM has long advocated about these critical issues. Access block and ambulance ramping cause preventable harm for people who need acute healthcare in NSW. These longstanding and complex problems can’t be fixed by ambulance services and EDs alone, as demonstrated by the findings and recommendations in this report.”
“We are heartened that the experiences of emergency physicians have been heard by the NSW Parliament, and that the report has endorsed evidence-based solutions which will make a genuine difference to healthcare outcomes for the people of NSW.
“These common-sense recommendations provide a pathway forward to ease the immense pressure on our health system and to improve safety for patients and healthcare staff. With healthcare the number one issue on voter’s minds right now, we encourage all parties and candidates to prioritise these urgently needed health system reforms.”

ACEM is the peak body for emergency medicine in Australia and New Zealand, responsible for training emergency physicians and advancement of professional standards.
Media Contact:
Melissa Howard, Media Relations Manager [email protected] + 61 427 621 857