Jill Poulsen, The Courier-Mail, January 9, 2019 10:00pm
Fears the practice will lead to deaths have sparked desperate nurses to take legal action to try to save lives.
The Courier-Mail can reveal horror situations, such as suicidal teens and heart patients being left alone in hospital hallways, are so commonplace at hospitals across Metro South, including Logan and Redlands, nurses fear it’s only a matter of time before a patient dies.
Shocking pictures leaked to The Courier-Mail of patients in halls at Princess Alexandra Hospital in September reveal the extent of the problem, which is ongoing.
One whistleblower said a directive to ensure ambulances were not waiting at hospitals during the Commonwealth Games was ongoing and only shifted the bed shortage, leaving patients far more vulnerable.
“At least if someone with a heart condition is stuck in the back of ambulance complaining of chest pain they are hooked up to a heart monitor with someone taking care of them, which is much safer than being dumped in a chair with no nurse and no equipment,” the whistleblower said.
The Nurses Professional Association Queensland has complained about Metro South Hospital and Health Service to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission in a bid to see the dangerous practice stopped.
But last night Health Minister Steven Miles defended its use.
“I announced in June a range of initiatives to ensure patients arriving by ambulance are seen quicker and to get ambulance officers back in the field sooner, including additional $700,000 for a Rapid Transfer nurse in Logan Emergency Department to help ambulances get back on the road faster during the busy period,” he said.
“These initiatives are working. It has improved ambulance response times in the Logan region and is in addition to the hardworking nurses already working in the ED.”
NPAQ spokesman Jack McGuire said ramping was an issue that required real solutions, not ministerial edicts that left vulnerable community members at risk.
“It’s become evident through feedback from our nurses that the new ramping restrictions have simply led to an abuse of the rapid transfer process, which leaves patients stranded in hallways,” he said. “First the minister was caught out with his dodgy survey, now he’s trying to dodgy (up) the ramping figures by dumping patients unattended.”
Meanwhile, the number of ambulances stuck outside hospitals continues to grow. The latest Queensland Health data reveals Redland, Logan, PA, Royal Brisbane and Women’s, Robina, Gold Coast University and Sunshine Coast University hospitals are the worst hit.
An experienced nurse said ramping had been going on for more than 10 years without being addressed.
“We don’t have enough ambulances, we don’t have enough beds,” they said.
“My fear is that someone is going to die in one of these corridors. I’ve been a nurse for a very long time and it literally blows us away every day.”
Mr Miles said the $280 million Logan Hospital expansion project, which includes up to 190 beds and a maternity ward expansion, would help ease the problem.
Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates labelled the scandal “yet another health cover-up”.
“These aren’t just numbers in a spreadsheet though, it’s your mum, your brother or your grandad stuck in the back of an ambulance or dumped at a hospital’s door rather than being in emergency care,” she said.
“Queensland’s public hospitals are bursting at the seams.”
Yesterday the department refused to release data on “rapid transfers” in Metro South despite repeated assurances it would be transparent and provide the data.
Original Story published by the Courier Mail on 9 January