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While the workload of GP-type patients in emergency departments is an issue which needs to be addressed, it is not the main reason for long delays and overcrowding (C-M, Feb 3).

The main cause of overcrowded emergency departments is the ongoing issue of admitted patients having to stay longer in the emergency department because there aren’t inpatient beds.

That is, patients with fractured hips, suffering from strokes and chest pain, or who are experiencing a mental health crisis are unable to access beds on the wards of the hospital for their ongoing care, therefore spending unacceptably long periods in emergency departments. This is why most emergency departments struggle to manage the increasing workloads; hospitals are operating at or overcapacity the majority of the time, which ensures significant delays to care and this is borne out in emergency departments.

Perpetuating the myth that emergency departments are clogged with “GP-type” patients does nothing to address the current significant challenges faced by emergency departments and hospitals.

We need action around the core issues of staffing levels, funding and increased bed capacity, and better management of chronic disease and improved community-based care.

Importantly, any solutions to ease the pressure on emergency departments need to be backed by evidence, not based on a furphy.
Dr Simon Judkins
Australasian College for Emergency Medicine

This letter was sent to The Courier Mail on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

This letter was published by the Sunday Mail on Sunday, February 10, 2019