News

Ipswich ambo speaks out on ramping, risks his job

RECURRING ISSUE: Ambulances ramping at Ipswich Hospital back in 2011.
RECURRING ISSUE: Ambulances ramping at Ipswich Hospital back in 2011. Claudia Baxter

LIVES are being put at risk as paramedics stand waiting in hospital hallways instead of responding to the public's calls for help.  

Ambulance ramping at Ipswich Hospital has become noticeably worse in the past year.  

Now paramedics are breaking their silence to warn the community - there could be dire consequences.  

Ipswich Hospital hasn't denied ramping is a major problem, but pointed out the issue is affecting most major Queensland hospitals, most recently highlighted by unions in Cairns and Logan.   

The State Government says an increased demand in ambulance services and emergency departments across the state is putting pressure on services.   

But fear and frustration is mounting among local ambulance officers who are calling on the government to take action.  

In the past week, on any given day, there have been about five ambulances parked in the Ipswich Hospital Emergency Department parking bay.  

The hospital says that could be related to flu season, which has been particularly severe this season.

According to ambulance officers, spending up to five hours waiting for a patient to be admitted to the hospital isn't unusual.

Ipswich Hospital emergency department drop-off and ambulance bay, September 2016.
Ipswich Hospital emergency department drop-off and ambulance bay, September 2016. David Nielsen

They say the ramping issue is a combination of the lack of hospital staff, not enough beds and the public's abuse of both the ambulance service and the public emergency department.

When ambulances are ramped they can't respond to new calls and regional stations, such as in Springfield and Redbank, are being forced to pick up the slack leaving those communities without nearby services.

An Ipswich ambulance officer with more than 20 years' experience has risked his job to explain why ambulance ramping could cost someone their life.

He says if his name was to be printed, he would surely be fired.

"It's almost a daily issue," the paramedic said.

"Being ramped for two or three hours is not uncommon and I have personally been ramped for five hours before.

"You often hear the radio calling for anyone that can respond to a Code One and they repeat the call in desperation because they've got no units available.

"It's frustrating. I think every paramedic goes through the same thing; if that was our family member that had a car accident, or a heart attack, and they die because an ambulance can't get there....

"These are people we should be looking after and we can't get there to do that job."

Between January and June last year ambulance officers across Queensland spent 751 days 'ramped' at hospital emergency departments for longer than 30 minutes.

That's an improvement on the same figures from 2010-2011 when paramedics spent 1315 days standing around waiting.

But in 2013, under the LNP government, that figure dropped down to 318 days.

Shadow Health Minister John-Paul Langbroek puts that down to the introduction of the Metropolitan Emergency Department Access Initiative.

The initiative followed an expert report on ambulance ramping, pointing it out as a major problem, and stopped ambulances 'bypassing' busy hospitals.

Shadow Health Minister, the LNP's John-Paul Langbroek
Shadow Health Minister, the LNP's John-Paul Langbroek Allan Reinikka

The reform focused on improving communication and co-ordination between Queensland Health and Queensland Ambulance Service within emergency departments, a process deemed inconsistent across hospitals at the time.

In August last year the State Government re-instated a directive ordering hospitals to follow that initiative, which was revoked by the LNP once the figures showed ramping was resolving and hospitals were working more efficiently.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Cameron Dick said the biggest contributor to ramping was a 5 per cent increase in calls to Queensland Ambulance.

In Ipswich, presentations to the Emergency Department this year have jumped 5.6% from last year.

The LNP is blaming the State Government for a resurgence in ramping, while the State Government is pointing the finger at the LNP for removing the requirements set out in the Metropolitan Emergency Department Access Initiative in the first place.

But paramedics say the easiest solution would be to assign an emergency triage nurse to exclusively assess patients arriving by ambulance, a system already in place at some hospitals in south-east Queensland.

That option is being explored for Ipswich Hospital, however, funding is an issue.

When asked if staffing issues in the Ipswich Hospital Emergency Department were causing ambulance ramping, West Moreton Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Sue McKee skirted around the question.

Ms McKee said staffing levels were regularly reviewed, but wouldn't say how many staff work in the department in total.

"It's not uncommon for some people in the community to misuse the QAS and tie up valuable resources in emergency departments when they could have seen a GP or called the 13HEALTH for medical advice," Ms McKee said.

Topics:  health, ipswich, ipswich hospital, paramedics


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Brisbane, Gold Coast airports hit by Border Force strikes

Extensive rolling stoppages to start today

RSPCA warns of tick outbreak

WARNING: Vets are urging pet owners to check their animals for deadly paralysis ticks.

The recent warm weather has seen an increase of tick cases in pets.

More than 9000 Queensland kids in foster care

The Department of Communities and Child Safety suspended or cancelled the permits of 30 carers last year while it substantiated 144 cases of harm to children.

30 foster carers banned as 144 cases of harm to children revealed.

Local Partners

UPDATE: Woman remains in critical condition after crash

VIDEO: A woman is fighting for her life after an accident this morning

Dad defends letting five year old do burnout

Five-year-old Riley Dobson has become a viral sensation after his dad Alex filmed him doing a burnout on their Thagoona property.

The single dad says he built the car with his son

Brisbane, Gold Coast airports hit by Border Force strikes

Extensive rolling stoppages to start today

RSPCA warns of tick outbreak

WARNING: Vets are urging pet owners to check their animals for deadly paralysis ticks.

The recent warm weather has seen an increase of tick cases in pets.

More than 9000 Queensland kids in foster care

The Department of Communities and Child Safety suspended or cancelled the permits of 30 carers last year while it substantiated 144 cases of harm to children.

30 foster carers banned as 144 cases of harm to children revealed.

Hospital emergency: Thousands clog ED with minor issues

EMERGENCY CALL: Ipswich Hospital's emergency department has been swamped in the past 12 months by people presenting with very minor issues.

Residents need to stop presenting with only minor treatment issues

Five ways to slash household bills and save the environment

THINK GREEN: Considering the environment when building or buying your next home can save you big dollars. The Village Building Company, who is responsible for Woodlinks Village at Collingwood Park, builds homes with this front of mind.

THERE is nothing as sweet as slashing dollars from your bills.

Car collides with police vehicle while on the run

The Queensland Police Polair 2 helicopter, which will begin operations from July 5, 2014.

Polair has been called in again after a driver evaded police.

Classic car auction draws buyers from US, Dubai

"He wants everyone to enjoy the cars, the collection got too big'

Rebecca Hall doesn't own a TV

Newspapers, yes. Television, not so much

Jaime King 'terrified' by son's heart surgery

Jamie King was "terrified" when her son went in for heart surgery.

John Mayer's advice for Shawn Mendes

Shawn Mendes has revealed John Mayer gave him advice

Josh Brolin and Kathryn Boyd tie the knot

Josh Bolin marries in front of close friends and family

Marilyn Manson wants a 'nice' girl

Marilyn Manson wants a girl who understands both of his identities

Angelina turns to Depp for consolation after divorce

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with their six children

Angelina Jolie is reportedly being consoled by Johnny Depp

Five ways to slash household bills and save the environment

THINK GREEN: Considering the environment when building or buying your next home can save you big dollars. The Village Building Company, who is responsible for Woodlinks Village at Collingwood Park, builds homes with this front of mind.

THERE is nothing as sweet as slashing dollars from your bills.

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Rocky proves prime real estate in latest REIQ report

Kas Woch sold this Wood St home in Depot Hill for $107,000 in August.

A new investor's market as Rocky house prices hit lowest in state