Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) President Dr Simon Judkins said: “When patients have to stay longer in the emergency department because there aren’t beds in wards of the hospital, they can suffer dramatically poorer health outcomes.
“The College has repeatedly identified this scenario, known as access block, as the number one issue facing WA hospitals that needs to be addressed.”
ACEM WA Faculty Chair, Associate Professor David Mountain, said while the College understands health budget constraints, more needs to be done, stressing that reduced spend on preventative, community-based measures will only increase the level of overcrowding that is being seen in the state’s hospitals and emergency departments.
WA hospital infrastructure
This week’s Federal Budget set aside $188.9 million for WA hospital infrastructure. Projects to be funded are:
- $158 million for a Joondalup Health Campus expansion
- $20.3 million for a Royal Perth Hospital refurbishment
- $10.6 million for a Osbourne Park Hospital expansion
“Although shiny new buildings are fine, unless capacity is built into the overall hospital system in order to deal with the extra patients and to provide proper care, it is just infrastructure,” Associate Professor Mountain said.
Associate Professor Mountain added: “Access block in emergency departments is a symptom of system wide dysfunction, poor system capacity, and inadequate inpatient flexibility to manage known demand.
“Improvements in hospital capacity are required. The number of available appropriate beds must increase to at least meet national averages, to try and keep pace with population growth, and the growing demand for hospital services, and redress lost capacity in the last decade.”
Investment into mental health infrastructure and services
ACEM welcomes the new investments, however an overall reduced spend on mental health is completely inappropriate given the growing crisis facing this state.
Urgent Care Clinics
Noting the clinic being developed at Royal Perth Hospital will provide a specialised service for patients presenting with behavioural disturbances and/or toxicological conditions, Associate Professor Mountain called for more details, asking how such clinics would integrate with existing emergency departments.
“The College is keen to work with the Government to ensure emergency physicians’ expertise influences and shapes their planning, development and implementation,” Associate Professor Mountain said.
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