Patients in Tasmania are among the most at risk of experiencing long wait times in emergency departments, new figures from the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine show.
The state joins South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory as the worst performing parts of the country in terms of ED waiting times.
The ACEM’s latest figures paint a picture of “deteriorating and unacceptable” access block and overcrowding in Australian hospitals.
Access block occurs when a lack of beds leads to longer waiting times in EDs.
The figures follow the state government’s release of statistics relating to ED waiting times for mental health patients in Tasmania.
They covered the financial year to March 31, 2018, revealing that the longest a mental health patient had to wait in the ED at the Launceston General Hospital was 3.8 days.
Premier Will Hodgman said the government recognised the increased demand bogging down the hospital system.
“That’s why we’re investing record amounts, we’re recruiting more staff, we’re opening more beds,” Mr Hodgman said.
“We do understand that services and facilities for patients with mental health issues do need to be improved. That’s why the redevelopment, not only of the Royal Hobart Hospital, but ancillary services and facilities across our state are being provided for.
“We are also opening additional facilities in the North and across Tasmania to support patients with mental health needs. And we will recruit more staff to support them.”
Opposition health spokeswoman Sarah Lovell said the ACEM’s figures showed “the extent of the crisis in our hospital system”.
“[The Premier] has not been able to give one example … of a measure that is going to go anywhere near fixing this problem,” she said.
“The only person in the state who won’t admit there’s a crisis in our hospital system is the Health Minister [Michael Ferguson].
“He needs to stop what he’s doing, he needs to listen to frontline workers and senior clinicians.”