117 days worth of ramping in April is best result for a year

Ambulances spent the equivalent of 117 days or nearly four months ramped outside Adelaide public hospitals in April, a figure the state government says is the lowest for a year and a dramatic improvement on March.

May 03, 2023, updated May 03, 2023
Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

The state government this morning released April ramping figures showing that ambulances spent 2810 hours outside hospital entrances waiting to admit patients.

But that figure was 1158 hours lower than the March level of 3968 hours – equal to 165 days or five and a half months.

The government said that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital recorded a 36 per cent drop in ramping from March to April, while Flinders Medical Centre ramping dropped 29 per cent for its second best result since February 2021.

Royal Adelaide Hospital ramping fell 31 per cent in April to its lowest level in a year, while Noarlunga Hospital recorded a 33 per cent improvement from March.

The government also said that ambulance response times improved in April to reach the best Priority 1 response times since August 2021.

Paramedics reached 68 per cent of Priority 1 cases within the recommended eight minutes, the government said – above the 60 per cent target and a marked improvement on the 47 per cent recorded in January 2022.

With less urgent Priority 2 cases, paramedics reached 60 per cent of patients within the recommended 16 minutes, compared with 36 per cent in January 2022.

Labor set a pre-election goal to reach 85 per cent of Priority 2 callouts on time by the end of its first term.

“March was obviously a very disappointing month, but we’ve now responded with April with our best ramping figures for the past year,” Health Minister Chris Picton said.

“We know we have a very long way to go still in improving the health system.

“I’d like to thank all of our doctors, nurses, paramedics, health workers right across the board for their efforts over the past month in achieving those outcomes.”

Opposition leader David Speirs said the reduction in ramping levels was “very inconsistent” with the experience of patients, paramedics and clinicians in public hospitals over the past month.

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He said the data “appeared” to show an improvement, but he questioned its integrity.

“There might be a bit of smoke and mirrors here,” he said.

“The integrity of the data is something that we would certainly like to analyse over the coming days.

“We know that the data monitoring systems were out for a period of time during this reporting period as well.”

A spokesperson from the SA Ambulance Service said an electrical failure event at the state government’s data centre had “no impact” on the service’s recording of transfer of care data.

It comes after the government this morning released its winter demand strategy to cope with an expected surge in hospital patients over the coming months.

As part of that strategy, free flu shots will be made available to 600,000 “vulnerable” South Australians, including those aged under five, those aged over 65, pregnant women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and people with pre-existing health conditions.

A new virtual state health control centre will also launch this week to coordinate the state’s health system.

Other components of the strategy including setting up an ambulance triage space at the Lyell McEwin Hospital emergency department and deploying SA Ambulance Service staff to emergency departments.

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