“Patient numbers at Canberra Hospital unsafe”
Dr Michael Hall, Clinical Director, Canberra Hospital
Like police stations, hospitals are a sanctuary in which we lay our trust, our reliance and our health. Members of society seek reassurance and safety in a hospital and in more cases than one, the emergency department acts as the heart of the hospital, the department in which is society’s go to platform.
The Australian Medical Association recommends that hospitals run at an 85 per cent bed occupancy rate for efficient and safe practice. But according to Canberra Hospital data, the facility has averaged about 95 per cent capacity so far this year.
This issue is not only occurring in Canberra Hospital, it is an issue which stretches across a variety of hospitals throughout Australia. While these are being measured, the ultimate aim is to meet the National Emergency Access Target or better recognised as NEAT. The NEAT is a component of the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Improving Public Hospital Servi9ces. The overall aim of the target is that by 2015, 90% of all patients presenting to a public hospital ED will either physically leave the ED for admission to hospital, be referred to another hospital for treatment or be discharged within 4 hours.
The best place to be in a medical emergency is WA, with hospitals seeing an average of 76% of patients within 4 hours of arrival, closely followed by Queensland at 74% – this is indicative that all other Australian states and hospitals must follow suit.
“Ninety-five per cent is unsafe… once you reach above 90 the hospital is under stress, once you reach above t95 the hospital is seriously under stress”, Dr Michael Hall says.
It is therefore important that health services develop effective strategies to alleviate ED congestion with an emphasis on safe and quality care because at the end of the day – the patient journey is the most important aspect of this issue.
Is your hospital falling behind on achieving the NEAT? DO you need to implement new strategies to reduce ED waiting times & access block? Criterion’s Timely Access to Emergency Department conference in November will help pave the way to ensure your hospital is setting the standard in achieving these expectations.