ACEM President Dr Simon Judkins said this message was more important than ever following announcements of investment in hospital infrastructure and record funding for hospitals across the country, contained in tonight’s budget.
“While assistance to the States and Territories for public hospitals is welcome, attention needs to turn to solving long-term system wide issues such as access block in emergency department — the inability to admit patients to the hospital because of inadequate bed numbers,” Dr Judkins said.
“The nation’s emergency physicians care for any patient, any time. Patients are living longer and are managing more complex and chronic conditions. This is on top of the spike in patient numbers emergency departments experience when peak winter demand hits.
“All this puts an increased demand on an already stretched system.
“We need investments in staff to support patient’s experience of care and evidence-based solutions that are underpinned by clinical expertise – too often emergency specialists are removed from key decisions made about emergency departments.
“‘We’re committed to working in partnership with the Federal Government to ensure long-term system wide reforms are implemented.”
Emergency medicine workforce
ACEM acknowledges workforce maldistribution is an issue facing all specialities including emergency medicine.
“We are committed to doing our bit, and to working with stakeholders to address emergency medicine workforce needs in Australia, especially in rural, regional and remote areas,” Dr Judkins said.
ACEM’s role in providing a trained workforce to provide emergency care for all populations including rural, regional and remote communities continues – through the FACEM Training Program, Emergency Medicine Certificate, Emergency Medicine Diploma, the Emergency Medicine Education and Training Program, the externally-funded Specialist Training Program and the Integrated Rural Training Pipeline.
Mental health care
ACEM has been outspoken that emergency departments are seeing an increasing number of patients with mental health disorders across all age groups.
Earlier this year, ACEM identified the unacceptable wait times of patients with acute mental and behavioural conditions in emergency departments, and called for a new approach to mental health care in emergency departments.
“Alarm bells should be ringing when people who come to the hospital in a crisis and need to be admitted, because there are no beds available for them, they are spending extraordinary amounts of time – sometimes days – in emergency departments; I don’t think that’s something that our community would think is fair,” Dr Judkins said.
“Emergency physicians on the front line are best placed to be involved in the planning and implementation of any new model of care for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”
Dr Judkins added that preventative measures, such as funding for Lifeline’s 24-hour telephone service, more mental health services for the elderly and initiatives for mental health nurses in rural areas, are welcomed and will hopefully increase community support for those needing mental health care.
Keeping Australians Out of Hospital program
Dr Judkins commented: “The combination of an aging population, increasing numbers of emergency department presentations and reduced inpatient capacity contributes to overcrowding and access block. Preventative measures that address specific patient groups have the potential to correct this scenario.”
ACEM Public Affairs Manager
03 8679 8813
0498 068 023