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Auditor General’s Emergency Department Report Demands Action

28 May 2019

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson

The Auditor General’s report into Tasmania’s hospital emergency departments is enormously confronting. The figures back up the first-hand stories of grid-locked emergency departments. 

The most scathing finding, however, is the absence of effective leadership to implement the recommendations of previous reviews.

Health Minister, Michael Ferguson has not only failed to match the rate of emergency department resourcing with the increase in patient demand, but has also failed to make bed management and discharge improvements that could alone create thousands more bed days a year.

The Auditor General found an absence of leadership and accountability towards tackling a health service culture that is deeply resistant to change, and which suffers from a dysfunctional silo mentality. The recommendations of previous reviews have also stalled.

The report confirms Tasmanians are less safe in emergency departments now than in 2014, with the Royal Hobart Hospital bed blocked 93% of the time.

Patient safety is now “severely and routinely compromised” through being unable to access an internal hospital bed in the time they need, with a 60% increase in adverse health events.

On any day, some 50% of emergency department beds are filled by patients who should be moved into a ward.

This report will shock many Tasmanians, but perhaps not the doctors, nurses and allied health professionals who have been calling for action and appropriate funding for the five years.  It paints a distressingly clear picture of a health system well past crisis point.

The Auditor General’s report demands action from the Health Minister and Premier.

The lives of Tasmanians are being put at risk by systematic under-resourcing and by a government unwilling to work with staff on cultural change.