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Why Victoria’s emergency departments are at breaking point

Neil Mitchell
Article image for Why Victoria’s emergency departments are at breaking point

Victoria’s emergency departments are at breaking point, with patients suffering heart attack symptoms and spinal injuries being forced to wait in ambulances outside hospitals for as long as five hours before getting the treatment they require.

Dr Sarah Whitelaw, from the Australian Medical Association, told Neil Mitchell it was alarming.

“We’re seeing an increased number of really sick people present to emergency and more of them are requiring ambulance transport,” she said on 3AW Mornings.

She said ambulance ramping issues, where they wait outside hospitals, was just the tip of the iceberg.

“The problem is a whole of system one, it is about the patient’s journey from the community, through the ambulance, through the emergency department, through the hospital,” Dr Whitelaw said.

“Each of those parts of the patient journey is running at over capacity, at the moment.”

Dr Whitelaw said there was a huge workforce shortage.

“They have had no break since the end of lockdown,” she said.

“Since lockdown has eased, unfortunately the pressure on our emergency workforce, our critical care staff and health care staff in general has continued.

“Our nursing staff are being asked to work in quarantine, in screening centres, vaccine centres.”

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Neil Mitchell
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