Canberra’s emergency departments are facing unprecedented demand according to the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Report (AIHW) into emergency departments across Australia, Chief Minister and Minister for Health Katy Gallagher said today.
In 2013-14 Canberra’s emergency departments saw the highest number of people use the service on record with a six percent increase up on the previous year.
The AIHW report shows that ACT emergency departments saw the highest percentage increase in presentation numbers with a 5.8% when compared against other jurisdictions, including Western Australia which saw a 1.5% decline.
In the 2013-14 year Canberra’s emergency departments saw a record 125,890 presentations.
“Despite this increasing demand the AIHW report shows that ACT public hospitals are continuing to improve in overall timeliness when it comes to emergency care,” the Chief Minister said.
“All triage categories have seen improvement with 61 percent of all patients being seen within benchmarked waiting times, a 10 percent improvement on the previous year.
“The report also shows that the ACT treated all category one and two patients, the most urgent cases, within benchmarked times.”
The most recent figures show that the trend for increasing presentations continues into this year where we have already seen 22,195 people come to ACT emergency departments in the first two months of 2014-15 to be treated which is an 8% increase on the same two months last year indicating that Canberra is on track for another busy year.
The Chief Minister said continued increases in patients going to be seen in ACT hospitals was not a trend that was being seen across the country.
“With 14 months of substantial increases in presentations which is not showing any sign of decline, it is important that we seek to understand more thoroughly the reasons why ACT hospitals are seeing such big increases despite improved GP access, new models like the nurse led walk in centres and new services like the National Home Doctor Service,” the Chief Minister said.
“I have asked ACT Health to provide me with a report on what factors are leading to these substantial year-on-year increases.
“In the meantime we need to ensure that the Canberra community is aware of other primary care health services that are available to deal with a range of illnesses and injuries including general practitioners, the nurse-led walk-in centres and CALMS after hours service, the home doctor visiting service, and community pharmacists that are able to treat or provide advice to people with less urgent conditions.
“I encourage Canberrans to think about whether their illness or injury might be better treated at one of these services before presenting to the emergency department to help prioritise the work of doctors and nurses in the ED towards the most urgent emergency cases.”
(Katy Gallagher Media Release)