Poor resources blamed for emergency delays

A SENIOR emergency department specialist at one of Sydney's busiest hospitals has criticised worsening transfer times of patients from the ambulance into the care of hospital staff, saying hospitals could not hide behind increasing emergency admissions.

Figures released today show 63 per cent of patients who arrived at hospitals by ambulance between April and June were transferred to emergency department care within 30 minutes, a figure that falls well below the government target of 90 per cent.

Two years ago, nearly 70 per cent of patients were transferred to hospital care within half an hour, with delays gradually worsening since then.

The deterioration should be viewed in the context of a rise in the number of patients seeking emergency care, said the Bureau of Health Information, which compiles the figures.

But the president of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, Sally McCarthy, said that alone did not explain transfer delays. ''Delays are very unlikely to be due to the rise in the number of emergency presentations,'' Dr McCarthy said.

Poor resources and coordination between the state government, local area health districts and hospitals meant there was a ''substantial'' number of patients who were ready to leave hospital but could not be moved, she said.

The figures showed half of patients with life-threatening conditions were seen within eight minutes, one minute longer than the same period last year.

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