Emergency Care Crisis Needs National Approach

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11th June 2009, 02:18pm - Views: 787

Community Health Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association 1 image

11 June 2009

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) today called for a national approach to

addressing the current crisis situation within public hospital emergency departments. 

The AHHA is the peak national body representing public hospitals, area health services, community

health centres and public aged care providers.

"The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released figures showing that public

hospital emergency department (ED) visits are increasing at a rate faster than other hospital services. 

The AIHW reports that there were more than 7 million presentations to emergency departments in

2007-08, with an average annual increase of close to 5% since 2003-04," Ms Prue Power, Executive

Director, said.  


"This reflects the experience of our members who report that hospital EDs are under significant

pressure and struggling to meet the increasing community demand.  This situation needs to be

addressed to ensure that EDs are able to provide high quality care to all people in an emergency. 

"The current threat of Swine Flu highlights the need for our hospital system to be prepared to deal

with sudden and unexpected increases in demand.  This cannot occur when EDs are already

operating in a crisis situation and struggling daily meet the needs of current patients. 

"AHHA recommends that the following strategies be adopted as a matter of urgency to take pressure

off our hospital EDs:

capacity building: both within hospitals, to upgrade ageing infrastructure, address workforce

shortages and improve systems, and within the community, to prevent the current high

number of preventable hospital admissions.  This must include additional funding. 

E-health: a nationally consistent e-health system would enhance discharge planning and

facilitate coordination of care and communication between hospitals and GP / community

care teams.  The proposed health 'smart card' is a good start but needs to be integrated with

other e-health systems to be effective. 

innovations: building on successful innovative projects developed in hospitals around

Australia to divert patients to more appropriate care setting and reduce pressure on EDs.  For

example, outreach programs which provide hospital-type care to people in the community

and prevent a crisis situation from developing. 

"The community relies on hospital EDs to provide them with high quality care in an emergency

situation.  We need a national approach to addressing the current crisis situation within EDs,

involving a range of strategies as outlined above, to ensure that our public hospital system will be

able to meet the community's expectations in the future," Ms Power said.

Contact:  Ms Prue Power 0417 419 857


Emergency care crisis

needs national approach 

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