State government crisis talks emerged late last week following a computer outage that worsened already high wait-times at Logan Hospital.
The eight-hour outage affecting 23 hospitals, with Logan among the worst, prevented healthcare workers from accessing the hospitals’ electronic medical record system.
This forced staff to use pen-and-paper methods and caused patients at Logan Hospital to wait up to five hours for treatment.
Queensland health minister and local MP Shannon Fentiman called crisis talks the next day, resulting in the adoption of a $20 million, five-point plan to address ambulance ramping.
“We acknowledge there are various contributing factors to ambulance ramping,” a statement from the minister’s office read.
It said ramping was caused by demand increasing more than population growth, more complex and chronic conditions shown by patients, and rising private healthcare costs and inaccessibility.
Wait times at Logan Hospital are consistently among the worst in the state, according to government data, reaching eight hours several times throughout July, August and September this year, and surpassing seven hours even more frequently.
During that same period, capacity at Logan Hospital was highly strained once for a 20-hour period.
In the three months before that, capacity was highly strained three times for an average of just over 22 hours.
What emerged from the crisis talks between the government and healthcare experts was a five-point plan which the government will inject $20 million towards.
It highlighted a need to increase triage and waiting room nursing staff to allow “the faster transfer of patients from ambulances to the care” of doctors, increasing access to imaging after-hours and on weekends, and enhancing accessibility to local GPs to reduce numbers at emergency departments.
It also established a “medical commander” role at each hospital, filled by a senior doctor who will manage the flow of patients from ambulances into the emergency room.
This meeting occured just one week after a man died following a three-hour wait in an ambulance outside Ipswich Hospital.
Ms Fentiman will meet with the Director-General and senior clinicians weekly to drive “rapid implementation of these initiatives” and ensure accountability.
An investigation has been launched into the cause of the computer outage, which is not believed to be a result of a cyber attack.
The issue started at around 8am on Thursday when healthcare workers discovered they were unable to log-in to the record sytem.
The issue persisted until 5pm.
Queensland Health said in a statement it was “not aware of any direct patient safety impacts as a result”.
“A post-incident review analysis to understand the cause of the issue, and steps to prevent it occurring again in the future, will take place over coming days,” the statement read.