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Latest News - September 2013

September 25, 2013
RHH bed shortage described as critical
Source: 7news
Linda Hunt

The bed shortage at the Royal Hobart Hospital has reached crisis point again.

Early last week, more than 30 emergency patients who had been admitted and needed a bed were forced to wait overnight in the emergency department, some on trolleys in the corridors, others on chairs.

Patients were doubled up in resuscitation cubicles and ambulances were forced to queue outside.

Neroli Ellis from the Nursing Federation says the situation needs to be addressed urgently.

"This is not an isolated incident, it was for around three days," Ms Ellis said.

"Patients were waiting unreasonable times, 34 patients waiting for admission going from shift to shift still in the emergency department."

Ms Ellis says there are not enough acute care beds at the Royal.

"We've got this constant competition between elective surgery and emergency admissions and they're all fighting for the same beds."

"We have to meet our national standards and targets to get the funding so we're having this, you know, it's definitely a bit of a boiling point at the moment," she said.

Tim Greenaway from the Australian Medical Association says the hospital is running at full capacity.

"It is a system that's under stress and the AMA's been saying this for some time," he said.

"The cuts to staffing numbers, the cuts to beds have left the situation in such a condition that there is no slack in the system."

The nurses union says up to 150 people seek help at the emergency department each day, and members will meet on Friday to discuss the crisis.

Hospital head says fluctuations normal

The Royal's chief executive Jane Holden says the hospital is working closely with unions and staff to respond to the situation.

She says the recent spike in demand is part of "usual fluctuations" and there has also been an unusually high level of staff sick leave.

Pressure to meet performance targets could mean some nurses and doctors miss out on a summer holiday break this year.

The hospital is set to scrap the usual six-week break over Christmas.

Ms Ellis says it means many workers' annual leave applications will be rejected this year.

"It will have a significant impact on the operations of the hospital to think now we're running 365 days a year, full surgical capacity and on-going emergency demands.

"It really will put pressure on everyone in the system."




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