Last week BHI data showed that in the period of April to June, NSWA has had its poorest response times in over a decade. This was a period with no COVID, no bushfires, no early flu season. It is just busier than ever, and with no real resourcing increases, patients are starting to suffer.
Add on the demands of COVID and the picture just gets worse.
But instead of increasing staffing, resources, funding and planning toward improving these response times, NSWA has gone back to trying to prop up the failing hospital system in a desperate hope that forcing ambulances to bypass hospitals, while loaded with patients, will solve all.
For those that remember, this will be as effective in improving offload and response times as ART was. But with the added benefit of being delayed at a hospital potentially hours out of area. Already on day 1 of hospital bypass in Southwest and Western Sydney, there are reports of patients having to be transported from Busby to Auburn, and Rooty Hill to Hornsby, only to then still be delayed, and with their original areas left depleted of resources.
It’s another flawed policy re-released with a new name. No mention of who is responsible if the patient deteriorates, if they are transferred to a smaller less capable hospital further away and have a longer or more complicated recovery. No mention of paramedic wellbeing or fatigue. No support for what to do if a high risk patient then refuses transport with Ambulance out of fear of going so far from home. The only support is a ‘Commander’ standing by at hospitals to make sure you are following the bypass rules and questioning your clinical decision-making if you don’t.
ADHSU members have worked harder than ever this year, with increasing demands, knowing they are the lowest paid paramedics in the country. They have worn full PPE for hours, worked extended shift lengths that would be illegal in other industries, some have started their careers mid pandemic, others have been forced into a casualised workforce full of uncertainty.
ADHSU members have been fighting bypass, ART, and now back to bypass as a response to bed-block for decades. These sorts of band-aid solutions come across as quick methods to have more ambulances on the road able to respond, however in the end all it does is reward hospitals with poor patient flow performance with reduced demand.
And this is not a problem due to COVID. These graphs show rapidly deteriorating transfer of care performance up to June this year just before delta broke out of quarantine (source: BHI report).
Please take a moment to respond to this survey on the issue of hospital bypass.