Record number of lives saved in Qld hospitals amid capacity crisis

DOCTORS and nurses at Queensland hospitals have worked to save a record number of lives over the last month despite facilities being stretched to the limit.

There were 1.5 million presentations to hospitals across the state between July 2018 and March 2019,the equivalent of the populations of the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Hervey Bay and Maryborough combined.

Services were stretch to the limit last month in particular, with an unseasonable spike in flu cases leading to a massive increase in demand, particularity in the south east where hospitals were all placed under a ‘code yellow’ at one point.


In March, the state’s emergency physicians saw a total of 178, 573 presentations, which is an extra 18,056 people than the same time in 2018 – a demand increase of almost 6 per cent.

Deputy Director General of Clinical Excellence Queensland Dr John Wakefield said despite a huge increase in demand our hard-working ED doctors, nurses and paramedics fought tooth and nail every single day to save more patients than ever before.

“99 per cent of the sickest patients were seen within two minutes of reaching hospital,” Dr Wakefield said.

“These are people who are so at risk, they need immediate care to save their lives. “This is a glowing tribute to the skills and dedication of emergency workers, especially everyone who works in Queensland hospitals.

“The majority (65 per cent) of patients – including those in the serious categories one, two and three – were seen within 30 minutes of arriving at hospital.

“Further to this, the majority (86 per cent) of those presenting as the non-urgent categories four and five were treated within four hours.”

Dr Wakefield stressed patients will always get world-class treatment in Queensland’s public hospitals, but emergency departments will always prioritise the most urgent cases first such as people presenting with cardiac related conditions.

“Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in Queensland, with 3,809 people dying from coronary heart disease in 2016*,” Dr Wakefield said.

“If you didn’t believe heart disease was a big health issue – here are the numbers to prove it.

“Out of the 1,415 category one patients seen in Queensland EDs last month, the most common presentation was patients with cardiac complications – most often a heart attack.

“Our staff worked to save 104 category-one-critical presentations for cardiac conditions last month.

“Another 6,339 people with a cardiac condition were rushed to hospital as a category two, needing urgent care within 10 minutes.

“That’s almost a quarter of the total 26,413 category two presentations across the state.

“These figures don’t capture the whole picture as more patients are diagnosed with a cardiac condition following further investigation and treatment.”

Gold Coast HHS has 7 category one patients and 786 category two patients in March, that’s around 25 people presenting themselves to hospital for cardiac issues every day.

While most people remember to keep our EDs for emergencies, Dr Wakefield said we continue to see more and more people fronting up to our EDs for minor, GP-style ailments.

“Our clinicians always treat the sickest patients first,” Dr Wakefield said.

“Everyone will be seen but please know that if you’re waiting in an ED to be seen for a minor ailment, it’s probably because our-hard working emergency physicians are working hard to save someone’s life.

“If you come to an ED you will be seen and treated in one of the safest systems in the world.

“Our doctors are always going to treat patients based on clinical need so heart attacks will almost always be treated before snake bites, and snake bites before acne or ingrown toenails.”