Paramedics responding to record demand as unprecedented flu season hits hard

Published: Comments:
Community Emergency Information Familes Health & Wellness Law & Safety Queensland Government

This is an archived copy of an article. It is online for informational purposes only.

Queenslanders are being urged to remain patient and cooperate with health authorities as the flu season sparks a record demand for the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS).

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said an unprecedented flu outbreak had contributed to a 13 per cent increase in Triple Zero (000) calls so far this financial year.

“Last Monday (August 14) was the busiest day on record for the QAS with an extra 613 Triple Zero (000) calls fielded compared to the same day in 2016,” Mr Dick said.

“The most significant growth has been in Code 1 cases, the most critical patients, where there has been a 22 per cent increase in the past week, compared to the same period last year.

“In the past fortnight the QAS has experienced eight of its ten busiest days on record for Code 1 incidents.

“There have been 19,216 confirmed  flu cases notified to Queensland Health so far this year and while demand has increased across the state it’s been most prevalent in South East Queensland.”

“As part of the Palaszczuk Government’s $10 million South East Queensland Emergency Care Action Plan implemented last month we’re providing new models of care, increased hospital capacity and 40 new frontline paramedics all to commence by 25 September 2017,” Mr Dick said.

“Nineteen of these will end up on the Gold Coast, 15 will be deployed in the Brisbane region and six will service the West Moreton area.

 “Our $15 million Winter Beds Strategy has also provided access to an extra 90 hospital beds during surges and in areas of high demand.

 “These initiatives have gone a long way to help meet the increasing demand but we also need support from the community, which is why we’re asking the public to keep our ambulances and emergency departments for emergencies only.”

Mr Dick said while the Queensland Government was responding to increasing demand for health and ambulance services, the Turnbull Government also need to do its part.

“That’s why I’m calling on the Turnbull Government to abandon any proposed cuts to funding for the national After Hours Home Doctor Service.

“Media reports today indicate that access to after-hours doctors could collapse and emergency departments across Australia could be overrun with one million additional patients if the Turnbull Government halves the Medicare rebate for home visits.

"Any cuts to the Medicare rebate for the home doctor service would be a disaster for our state's public hospitals and ambulance service.

"More importantly, it would make life harder for sick Queenslanders,” Mr Dick said.

A recent Deloitte Access Economics report on the impact of the home doctor service showed that 762,000 Queenslanders accessed the home doctor service last financial year.

The report also noted that from a survey of 50,000 home doctor patients across the country last year - 56% said they would have called an ambulance, attended an emergency department or attended an after-hours clinic if they couldn’t access a home visit.

It also shows that the average patient self-presenting at an emergency department costs taxpayers $368. This cost soars to $1,351 if patients request an ambulance. By contrast, an urgent after-hours consultation with a home doctor costs the healthcare system on average just $128.

Mr Dick said it is clear that any changes to the home doctor service will see even more pressure on our public hospitals and the Queensland Ambulance Service.

QAS Acting Commissioner Dee Taylor-Dutton said strategies were put in place prior to the flu season to cope with the predicted extra workload.

“Despite this unprecedented demand we’ve still been able to respond to our most critical patients within our optimum timeframes, but those with less serious conditions may need to wait a bit longer than usual for an ambulance,” she said.

“We expect it will be another week before the demand subsides.

“I also want to ask Queenslanders to do their bit to help reduce the flu burden by using QAS’ finite resources responsibly, which means only calling an ambulance if it’s vital to do so.”

QAS Medical Director Dr Stephen Rashford said many flu patients were presenting with cardiac and respiratory issues.

“In a lot of cases they’re having trouble breathing and those sort of symptoms require a Code 1 response,” Dr Rashford said.

“We’re also seeing patients who have experienced several days of sickness at home reach a point where they require an ambulance to get them to hospital.”

Minister Dick also reminded Queenslanders to use good hygiene and consider the urgency of their emergency by thinking about going to their GP not an Emergency Department if they’re experiencing symptoms.

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
The Honourable Cameron Dick

Queensland Health : Queensland Government :
Queensland Health Building, 147-163 Charlotte Street, Brisbane Queensland 4000, Queensland Wide
13 43 25 84
Queensland Health : Queensland Government
Showing 10+ recent articles for this business
Heatwave brings increased health risks to Queenslanders 09 February 2018 | Queenslanders should take precautions against dehydration and other heat-related conditions as a severe heatwave is set to hit Queensland this weekend and into next week. More information...
Wide Bay companies called to tender for hospital upgrade works 25 January 2018 | The Palaszczuk Government is calling on Wide Bay businesses to tender for hospital upgrade works in Bundaberg, Maryborough and Gayndah under the Queensland Government’s new procurement strategy. More information...
Queenslanders urged to stay safe in the heat 09 January 2018 | Queenslanders are being urged to be vigilant during this week’s warm weather and keep an eye on children and the elderly with temperatures forecast to remain in the 30’s. More information...
New health sector watchdog appointed 05 January 2018 | An experienced leader in the Queensland public service has been appointed the new Health Ombudsman. More information...
Record flu season hits system hard 02 January 2018 | Australia’s 2017 flu surge had a huge impact on emergency department performance, Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Steven Miles has confirmed. More information...
More Queenslanders set to benefit from HIV drug trial 20 October 2017 | Queensland Health will add an extra 1000 places to a potentially life-saving HIV medication trial, Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick announced today. More information...
Changes to further regulate cosmetic surgery procedures approved 20 October 2017 | The Palaszczuk Government has acted to provide greater protection for people undergoing surgical procedures for cosmetic purposes. More information...
Queensland kids under five to receive free flu vaccine 18 October 2017 | After the worst flu season in recent years, the Queensland Government has announced a new vaccination program for children aged six months to five years old. More information...
Government to hold summit following severe flu season 12 October 2017 | After one of the worst flu seasons in years, Queensland Health is bringing together key experts for a summit to explore how the State’s health system can better respond next year. More information...
Early works tender released for new youth mental health facility 10 October 2017 | Collaboration with families of former patients of the Barrett Centre, and the Department of Education and Training, has been an integral component of getting this project off the ground. More information...

comments powered by Disqus

All articles submitted by third parties or written by My Sunshine Coast come under our Disclaimer / Terms of Service