HACSU claims ramping is getting worse

File photo.
File photo.

Ambulance ramping has reached “unprecedented levels” across the state in past six weeks, according to the Health and Community Services Union.

State secretary Tim Jacobson said resources were stretched to breaking point in the North and South.

A Tasmanian Health Service spokesman said ambulances outside the front of hospitals were not necessarily indicative of ramping.

“It is important to note that ambulances parked outside the emergency department can be an indication of non-urgent patient transport occurring, as well as normal patient hand-over protocols,” he said.

“They do not necessarily reflect emergency cases.”

Mr Jacobson said bed block and ambulance ramping at the Launceston General Hospital and Hobart Royal Hospital were “like we have never seen before”.

“The biggest issue we have right now is that, on a daily basis, we’re running out of ambulance resources on the ground.

“It means that ambulance managers and even ambulance education staff have been called in to assist.

“We have even had training programs cancelled in order to keep up with the demand.”

On August 14, Ambulance Tasmania responded to more than 300 incidents, in what was one of its busiest days on record.

Mr Jacobson said the flu season was not the only factor in the increased demand.

“It’s only been in the last week or so that we have seen a spike associated with the flu,” he said.

“The main spike has been with real hospital cases, which is more of a concern.”

The state government last week outlined a plan to ease the pressure on the state’s ambulance service through the employment of a medical specialist, supported by a triage nurse and paramedics, in the State Operations Centre.

It came on the back of the Ambulance Tasmania review released in June, which showed that in some areas of Tasmania more than 40 per cent of transported patients are non-acute and do not require transport to hospital.

Mr Jacobson welcomed the idea but said it did not resolve the ramping issue.

“I don’t want to minimise the fact that this is a good initiative and will take some pressure out of the system.

“However, when you’ve got 30 people waiting for beds in hospital, that is a different issue.”