26 September 2023

Ambulances pick up new jobs after review

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The State Government has reinforced its commitment to reduce pressure on public hospital emergency departments following a Parliamentary inquiry into ambulance ramping and access block.

According to the Minister for Health, Ryan Park there was full or in-principle support for 10 of the inquiry’s 12 recommendations, after the Government tabled its response to the report in Parliament.

“We know patients can suffer when our Emergency Departments (ED) are overcrowded and there are delays in the transfer of care from our paramedics to our hospital clinicians.”

Demand for health services, including emergency medical care, has grown exponentially over the past few years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 3 million patients present to NSW public hospital emergency departments each year.

In 2021 and 2022, emergency department attendances for the most urgent triage categories, triage category 1 and triage category 2, increased faster than less urgent categories.

In the same period, demand for ambulance services reached new record highs.

Mr Park said it was clear unprecedented demand for urgent medical care and the flow of patients through hospitals contributed to ramping and wait times in emergency departments.

He said the 10 recommendations supported by the NSW Government included:

* The provision of dedicated paramedic work zones, protected from the elements;

* The abolition of the public sector wages cap to ensure fair wages for healthcare staff and improved productivity and provision of services;

* Manage, support and monitor system-wide patient flow and performance.

A recommendation to reduce patient occupancy to 85% is noted, on the basis NSW public hospitals are jointly funded by the State and Federal Governments on an activity based funding model in accordance with the National Health Reform Agreement.

Work is continually underway within NSW Health to address a number of the committee’s recommendations to reduce pressures on hospitals.

The NSW Ministry of Health works closely with local health districts, specialty health networks and NSW Ambulance to monitor the transfer of care of patients from paramedics to emergency departments.

NSW Health is also undertaking a range of work with NSW health services and Commonwealth partners to address the factors that impact the transfer of care, including enabling greater access to aged care facilities, enhancing NDIS placements and improving access to primary care for patients.

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