15 December 2020

Ambulance bypass due to increased mental health presentations

| Dominic Giannini
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An overwhelming amount of ED presentations led to a partial ambulance bypass yesterday (Monday, 14 December) Photo: File.

The four-hour ambulance bypass yesterday (14 December) was sparked by increased mental health presentations to the Canberra Hospital emergency department (ED), ACT Health said today.

During the partial bypass, three ambulances were diverted to Calvary Hospital between 12:00 midday and 4:00 pm. People experiencing trauma, life-threatening injuries or in need of paediatric care were still taken to Canberra Hospital.

The severity of the presentations, coupled with the hospital’s inability to discharge more patients due to the gravity of the illnesses they were suffering created the backlog.

Patients were discharged early where appropriate to increase capacity within the hospital, an ACT Health spokesperson said.

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ED presentations maxed at 278 yesterday, which is less than the record number of presentations set during the last bypass when more than 330 people attended the ED.

The backlog led to treatment and waiting times blowing out to more than seven hours at the Canberra Hospital yesterday afternoon.

Part of the hospital’s surge capacity plan is to release patients who are well enough to be discharged or continue healthcare treatment at home.

More to come.

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Whilst waiting, a number of “kids” were brought into fast track. One of the nurses said the pediatrics area was shut due to a lack of staff. I can only guess that that would not have helped the treatment times.

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