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Ferguson Must Develop Winter Crisis Management Plan for RHH

16 May 2017

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens' Health spokesperson

Last night in the Royal Hobart Hospital, 17 out of 27 patients were waiting for over 12 hours for a bed.  With the winter flu season only just beginning to hit, Tasmanians are seeing the RHH Emergency Department at breaking point. 

In the lead up to the winter flu season, the Greens held a roundtable meeting about the state of Tasmania’s public hospitals, which was attended by all major health bodies.  

The meeting warned severe and ongoing bed-block at the RHH was unavoidable this winter, due to a lack of space.  A crisis plan is desperately needed to help staff manage the situation, and save patients’ lives.

We wrote to Health Minister, Michael Ferguson a month ago, well before the winter crisis arrived, warning about the upcoming flu season, and urging him to meet with peak bodies to develop a crisis management plan.

One month later, and the Minister has not responded to our letter or confirmed whether he will be developing a crisis management plan for the winter period.  We’re already seeing the beginnings of the winter flu season, without a plan in place.

Communications from staff to senior management yesterday described the RHH Emergency Department as facing one of its most serious overcrowding events ever.  It was described by staff as a centralised system that was in “management meltdown”, and with no timely response.

RHH staff are being overwhelmed and management is failing to respond in time, while patients wait for over 12 hours for a bed.  There’s an urgent need for the Health Minister to step in and meet with peak bodies to develop a crisis response.

Without a winter management plan, Minister Ferguson is expecting RHH emergency staff to work in a crisis without support from management, or government.  He’s risking the lives of sick Tasmanians, and praying everything will be okay.  

Winter isn’t coming, it’s here.  As the State’s largest hospital, the Royal needs a crisis management plan to deal with it, and it needs it now.