Australia's peak training organisation for specialist emergency medicine has called on the state government to address bed block issues at Launceston General Hospital it says are putting patients at risk.
The Australasian College of Emergency Medicine wants a commitment to measures ensuring more patients are admitted to hospital from the emergency department and in shorter times.
It comes amid growing concerns of ED overcrowding and access block at the LGH, and almost 18 months on from an access solutions meeting co-hosted by the college and the government.
ACEM Tasmania faculty chairman Dr Juan Carlos Ascencio-Lane said despite good engagement from the government and agreed solutions including additional resources and patient flow teams, the hospital was still experiencing persistent ED crowding and unacceptably long waits for patients to be admitted.
"We know that of all the issues affecting patient safety, hospital access block is particularly dangerous - increasing the risk of worse outcomes for patients, including greater likelihood of death, not just among ED patients, but across the hospital," he said.
"ACEM has recently recommended a revised set of access measures for patients presenting to the ED.
"We call on the government to commit to measures which ensure 60 per cent of patients requiring admission to hospital from the ED are admitted within four hours of arrival, and 100 per cent are admitted in 12 hours of arrival."
Access block occurs when admitted patients needing a hospital bed are delayed from leaving the ED because of a lack of inpatient bed capacity.
In November last year a snapshot survey conducted by the college revealed the LGH was the country's worst performing hospital for patient access block.
In September, more than 20 of the hospital's registras signed an explosive letter to the government, stating patients were dying unnecessarily.
Dr Ascencio-Lane said it remained a major area of concern for staff on the ground in Launceston.
Health Minister Sarah Courtney said the government and the Tasmanian Health Service had taken action to boost patient flow and capacity at the LGH, including ideas from a meeting held at the hospital in December.
"Earlier this week I announced a new program for approximately 20 new nurses in our rural and regional hospitals, under a new model designed to ensure our district hospitals are better placed to receive admissions from our major hospitals," she said.
"This model is about increasing local capacity to look after more acute patients and delivering care for more patients closer to home."
Ms Courtney said another key outcome from the LGH meeting was the development of a North and North-West specialist inreach model, using hospital specialists to better manage patients with chronic conditions in the community.
"I announced our commitment to progressing this model when I launched Our Healthcare Future recently, which will help further prevent hospitalisation and reduce front door demand pressure," she said.
"The THS is also consulting on rollout of Medtasker in the North and North-West, which has been implemented at the RHH and improves communication between clinicians around patient care, and pharmacist-partnered charting which has been proven to reduce medication errors, resulting in shorter estimated stays and lower readmission rates for patients."
Dr Ascencio-Lane said the college was in regular contact with Launceston ED staff and continued to offer its support in relation to its ongoing issues.
"Fixing these significant problems requires major ongoing commitment from the government and hospital management to secure the major systemic changes needed," he said.
"We are eager to continue engaging with the government to find solutions to these very important and urgent issues."
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