Rise in hospital ER overcrowding

OVERCROWDING at the Hervey Bay Hospital emergency department was alarmingly high in July.

“Thirty-seven per cent of patients waited for more than eight hours in the Hervey Bay emergency department before being admitted to the bed they needed,” Opposition health spokesperson Mark McArdle said.

“That’s up from the 33 per cent in July last year.”

Mr McArdle said the Bligh government report revealed access block rates caused by overcrowding in both the Hervey Bay and Maryborough emergency departments were worse than 2009.

“To make matters worse, more patients are spending time stuck on stretchers in queues of ambulances outside the overcrowded Hervey Bay emergency department.

“Although not as bad as Hervey Bay, access block rates in Maryborough were trending in the wrong direction – 16 per cent in July 2010 compared to 11 per cent in July 2009.

“This is not acceptable given that emergency department overcrowding has been identified by the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine as the most avoidable cause of harm in our health system.

“It is critical that the health minister release immediately and then act upon the recommendations of an audit of services at Maryborough and Hervey Bay hospitals that has been sitting on his desk for weeks.”

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