The Canberra Hospital had to divert ambulances to Calvary Hospital for the second time in just under a month after it reached capacity today.
The bypass started at midday Monday (14 December) and was supposed to last until 2:00 pm but was then extended to 4:00 pm.
While there is no obvious explanation for the increase in emergency department (ED) presentations at the moment, a health spokesperson said the bypass was initiated because the hospital could not discharge enough patients to cover the influx.
During a surge, some patients may be discharged from the hospital if they are deemed well enough to leave; however, not enough people could be released this afternoon due to the severity of some of their illnesses.
People experiencing trauma, life-threatening injuries or in need of paediatric care will still be taken to Canberra Hospital.
As of 4:00 pm this afternoon, the average amount of time to be seen and treated at The Canberra Hospital ED has blown out to seven hours and 10 minutes.
ACT Health is urging Canberrans to only go to the ED in an emergency and for urgent treatment.
“There are several options if you require non-urgent medical attention. These include Walk-In Centres located in Tuggeranong, Belconnen, Dickson and Gungahlin. You can also speak to your GP or other primary care provider,” an ACT Health spokesperson said.
“Canberra Health Services continues to work on its timely care strategy to improve systems and processes, improve patient flow to manage surges in demand and maximise capacity within Canberra Hospital.
“A number of initiatives have already been implemented, including timely care diagnostics, daily multidisciplinary safety huddles, hospital-wide flow management meetings, strategies to reduce barriers to discharge and identifying and discharging appropriate patients.”
During the last ambulance bypass, Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the measure was part of the health system’s surge capacity.
“[EDs] plan for surges and things like partial ambulance diversions are part of that emergency response. It is not a response that says we did not know what to do so we did this, it is part of a planned responded to a surge in demand.”
The partial bypass was officially ended at 4:00 pm this afternoon.