The Health Minister has been forced to address reports about a lack of beds at the Gold Coast University Hospital after photos emerged of people sleeping on the floor of the emergency department.
The images show a number of people lying in makeshift beds on the floor on Sunday morning, as they waited several hours to see a doctor.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath insists it had nothing to do with a lack of beds, but rather a number of critical incidents that had staff stretched to the limit.
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“It wasn’t that people were waiting in ED for that long because there no beds,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
“There were beds available but the clinical teams were concentrating on saving’s peoples lives.”
According to the Gold Coast University Hospital, there were a number of life-threatening and complex cases in the early hours of Sunday that required large numbers of clinicians.
“The teams always triage those waiting in ED to identify whether they are in life-threatening circumstances or whether they can wait,” Minister D’Ath said.
“It doesn’t matter what time you walk into ED, if there are people in life-threatening situations, they will always prioritise those.”
Ms D’Ath said it was important people try avoid coming to emergency departments unless it’s an emergency.
“I think what we’re seeing in the ED, and the story about the Gold Coast, is a reflection of the fact that people who walk into our emergency departments are there for a whole range of different reasons,” she said.
“Whether it’s people who are homeless, whether it’s mental health, whether it’s addiction, whether it’s people coming in who are seriously unwell or seriously injured.
“But there also people who are there simply because there are no other services at 3 o’clock in the morning that they’re coming to an emergency department instead.
“They’re coming for conditions that otherwise could be seen by a GP or could be managed outside of an emergency department.”
Minister D’Ath said the Parliamentary Committee, set up to investigate issues within Queensland hospitals, is looking at a range of ways to take pressure off emergency departments.