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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

Patients left in limbo: NSW Government delays action as ramping crisis intensifies

Health Industry Hub | June 7, 2023 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: Patients in New South Wales (NSW) are suffering as the problem of ramping in hospitals continues to escalate, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Health Information. Paramedics, who witness the dire situation firsthand, express their concerns that the worst is yet to come. Adding to the frustration is the delayed response from the NSW Government regarding an inquiry report that was due in March 2023.

The recently released Healthcare Quarterly Report by the Bureau of Health Information reveals a disturbing trend of worsening bed block during January to March 2023. Shockingly, more than one in five patients now face excessive wait times before being transferred to hospital care. In urban areas, one in ten patients endures waits of over an hour.

Australian Paramedics Association (APA) NSW President, Chris Kastelan, voiced his dismay at the distressing statistics, emphasising the urgent need for action on the recommendations derived from the Inquiry into Ramping. Mr Kastelan pointed out the imminent arrival of flu season, which historically amplifies the strain on an already overloaded healthcare system. He expressed concerns not only for patients but also for the paramedics themselves, who often find themselves exposed to the elements while waiting outside hospitals. He lamented the lack of adequate shelter for both paramedics and patients during adverse weather conditions.

Dr Michael Bonning, President of AMA NSW, shed light on the downstream effects caused by barriers to access primary care, particularly in regional, rural, and remote areas. These barriers contribute to the mounting pressure on emergency departments. Dr Bonning highlighted the issue of exit block and the complications in efficiently moving patients through hospitals, as well as the challenges faced by admitted patients awaiting placement in aged care or NDIS-funded facilities.

While horror stories of unacceptable waiting times abound, Dr Bonning stressed that it is the seemingly mundane waiting times that have a detrimental impact on patient outcomes. These prolonged waits affect patients’ perception of their treatment and acceptance thereof, while hospital staff find themselves playing catch-up when treatment is delayed beyond clinically appropriate times.

In December 2022, the NSW Legislative Council released its Ramping Inquiry report, which exposed significant shortcomings in the emergency healthcare system. The report put forth twelve recommendations to address the pressing issue of bed block, including the abolition of the wages cap, the recruitment of more paramedic specialists, and the implementation of mobile work trailers to provide paramedics with a safe space when they encounter bed block situations.

“The Minns Government was elected with the promise of supporting health workers, but has failed to implement even one of the recommendations,” stressed Mr Kastelan.

The lingering inaction of the NSW Government in response to the Ramping Inquiry report has left many stakeholders frustrated and concerned about the future of healthcare in the state. As patients and paramedics brace themselves for the upcoming flu season, the need for immediate and effective solutions becomes more pressing than ever.

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