Covid ’not to blame’

Dandenong Hospital. 165451_02

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A “national emergency” in hospitals is not as a result of Covid-19, according to the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine.

President Clare Skinner says systemic problems like emergency department overcrowding and ambulance ramping had been “building for many years”.

Covid-19 only “exposed and worsened” the problems.

“Members all over Australia report to the College that these are the worst conditions they’ve experienced in their careers.”

She said parts of the health system were “seeing almost double the amount of people they were designed for”.

It was “impossible” for clinicians to provide the level of care needed.

“People are deteriorating, and in some tragic cases people are dying, due to a lack of appropriate, timely, affordable healthcare.

“This avoidable patient harm will continue to occur and worsen until the health-system is properly designed and resourced.”

Dr Skinner said the State Budget’s focus on up to 7000 new health workers and $12 billion on health care was welcome, but more was needed to retain burnt out staff.

“As recently publicised, senior staff are leaving the healthcare workforce, often due to burnout and despair at working in a broken system that renders them unable to deliver top-quality care.”

Federally, a nationally-coordinated, long-term, whole-of-system approach was needed, she said.

Better health care in residential aged-care and better services under the NDIS would reduce demand in the “struggling” health systems.