Ambulance ramping outside the Royal Adelaide Hospital has reached a record high, according to the ambulance union, prompting paramedics to start writing slogans on the side of their ambulances to raise public attention about the issue.
- 18 ambulances ramped outside Royal Adelaide Hospital
- Paramedics will consider industrial action after the union meets with Health Minister
- Junior doctor assaulted, the second assault within a week
Ambulance Employees Association state secretary Phil Palmer said there were 18 ambulances ramped outside the hospital last night, and every other metropolitan hospital was on code white, meaning all emergency department beds were full.
“Yesterday was the worst day we’ve ever seen. It was an absolute shocker,” he said.
“We’re going to have to manage our members’ anger and it’s white hot, I might say.”
Mr Palmer said some patients were moved into the hospital but were still in the care of paramedics waiting for a bed.
He said he believed the hospital was trying to make it appear there were fewer ambulances ramping.
“You might call it ‘corridoring’, we still call it ‘ramping’,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s a delayed transfer of care. It’s tying up an ambulance instead of freeing it up to go into the community.”
Paramedics write messages on ambulances
He said his members wanted to take industrial action but felt they could not strike because it would put patients’ lives at risk.
Instead, paramedics will start using liquid chalk to write on the sides of their ambulances as part of a public awareness campaign.
“Messages like ‘I can’t save your life if I’m ramped’ and ‘I can’t save your mate’s life while I’m ramped’,” he said.
The union has plans to meet with Health Minister Stephen Wade this week, and says if it does not get a satisfactory outcome, it will consider industrial action on non-critical patient transfers between hospitals.
Doctors report ‘near misses’ in overcrowded ED
Salaried Medical Officers Association industrial officer Bernadette Mulholland received a message from an emergency department doctor last night alerting her to safety concerns at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Following the text, she visited the hospital at 11:30pm and said it was the worst she had seen, with 106 patients in the 71-bed ED and doctors reporting two “near misses”.
“There had been two near misses, which are life-threatening near misses, and there was real concern that should these conditions continue that eventually someone may die,” she said.
Ms Mulholland said a junior doctor had been assaulted and needed stitches on his lip — the second assault on a doctor at the hospital in a week.
She said doctors were concerned the situation would result in a patient dying.
“In these sorts of conditions, there is an ongoing worry that something will be missed for the patient, resulting in an adverse event or simply that the patient may die,” she said.
The association plans to carry out a public poster-and-letterbox campaign, and will start sending out text messages each day with the most recent statistics on the hospital’s emergency department.
Premier Steven Marshall said the ramping situation was completely unacceptable but blamed the situation on the previous Labor government’s legacy, including the Transforming Health reform program.
“The reality is this was always going to happen. Transforming Health was closing down hundreds of beds across South Australia,” Mr Marshall said.
“The Government’s moving as quickly as they can. You’d recall only last week we were talking about 40 additional beds down at the Repat.”
The Salaried Medical Officers Association and the Ambulance Employees Association will meet with the Health Minister later this week to address the overcrowding issues.