Calls for whole-of-system approach to ease ambulance ramping crisis

Paul Hayes

16/04/2021 2:27:00 PM

The RACGP wants to see the country to follow the Tasmanian suggestion of using general practice to help alleviate hospital overcrowding.

Line-up of ambulances
RACGP Tasmania Chair Dr Tim Jackson has called on leaders from across the political spectrum to consider how a whole-health-system approach could benefit communities everywhere.

Ambulance ramping is a major problem in many places throughout Australia.
The situation in Perth, where a seven-year-old girl died following a two-hour wait in an emergency department, has been described as the worst in 100 years.
The issue of increased demand for hospital beds is on the agenda for millions of dollars in investments for Queensland health officials, and led to an ‘uncharacteristic’ letter being sent from the state’s chief health officer to GPs that suggested a lack of in-person consultations had led to a rise in emergency department presentations.
South Australia has seen recent reports of 88 patients waiting for a bed and 15 ambulances ramped at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Hospital wait times also remain a sore point in Tasmania; however, the RACGP has welcomed Tasmanian Labor’s proposal to end ramping at the state’s hospitals by better utilising general practice.
Labor’s Action Plan, launched earlier this week, includes the establishment of 10 ‘extended care centres’ through existing general practices. These centres would receive financial support to allow extended hours, and a ‘Medicare match’ contribution would ensure bulk billing for patients referred by the Emergency Tasmania Digital Health Hub.
‘I welcome the focus on community care, and it is refreshing to see the important role of general practice recognised,’ RACGP Tasmania Chair Dr Tim Jackson said. ‘If we want to improve healthcare outcomes in Tasmania, we need a whole-health-system approach.
‘Too often, health policies focus on more hospitals and more hospital beds as the solution to ongoing hospital capacity issues.’
The RACGP last year urged the Federal Government to boost primary care investment to improve health outcomes for Australian patients and to reduce total healthcare costs.
‘Recognising the key role general practice plays in urgent care and providing GPs with the support they need is an important step,’ Dr Jackson said.
The rest of Australia, according to Dr Jackson, can take a lesson from Tasmania’s approach.
‘This isn’t about left-versus-right politics or federal versus state and territory, it is simply sound policy,’ he said.
‘The RACGP would like to see other states and territories take up a whole-of-system approach, not just Tasmania.
‘So I call on leaders in all jurisdictions and from across the entire political spectrum to consider how a whole health system approach could benefit people in communities everywhere.’
Log in below to join the conversation.

emergency departments ramping Tasmania

newsGP weekly poll Do you feel well equipped to recognise and support patients with eating disorders?

newsGP weekly poll Do you feel well equipped to recognise and support patients with eating disorders?



Login to comment

Dr Suresh Gareth Khirwadkar   20/04/2021 7:30:27 AM

'Medicare match' to ensure bulk billing? So they are going to underfund it from the start? That'll be sure to be successful then.

Dr James Courts   20/04/2021 7:52:01 AM

Nice try to do it on the cheap.

How about remove the cost to attend the private ED if you have private health, make the companies pay, who have gotten rich off unused allied health over COVID.

Make private health more worthwhile to keep.

Stop increasing populations of cities without sorting out the health and other services needed.

Fund an acute GP model for those who like that field, have Dr out of hours run by fully qualified GPs with appropriate rebate, MDO cover and protect from the PSR.