Each year Queensland public hospitals experience increasing demand for services with approximately four per cent more presentations to emergency departments and more patients admitted year on year. This is particularly true during winter when hospitals, emergency departments and ambulances face increased demand. They also face increased absences among staff due to illness.
We are committed to partnering with Hospitals and Health Services (HHSs) and the Queensland Ambulance Service to ensure equitable and timely access to emergency department care for all Queenslanders. In line with this commitment, and in recognition of extra demand over the winter months, we’ve again adopted a multi-pronged approach to managing winter demand, through the 2017 Winter Beds Strategy. The strategy recognises the both the essential nature of emergency care to the health outcomes of Queenslanders, and that this care is provided in an increasingly challenging environment given the burden of illness, population growth, and growth in volume of scheduled elective surgery.
Under the 2017 Winter Beds Strategy, a $15 million package of initiatives will drive improved emergency access performance across the state during the winter months. These initiatives are targeted at preventing congestion in emergency departments, instances of ambulance ramping, and delays in patients being transferred from ambulances.
This strategy will:
- provide $15 million to support HHSs most impacted by winter to implement additional targeted capacity management strategies
- provide access to an extra 90 beds to provide surge capacity in areas of high demand
- develop and enact Annual Patient Flow and Capacity Plans (including winter bed initiatives) in all HHSs across Queensland
- provide funding for dedicated nursing resources to support patient flow in our busiest Emergency Departments
- continue to utilise private sector capacity through the $20 million Surgery Connect program
- continue a communication strategy and marketing plan to promote influenza vaccination for the general population and those individuals at an increased risk of complications as a result of influenza infection
- provide a quality improvement payment for staff influenza vaccination to improve voluntary influenza vaccination uptake amongst Hospital and Health Service staff.
We are supporting HHSs to develop annual patient flow and capacity plans with a winter surge component. The purpose of these plans is to capture actions HHSs will implement to minimise the effects of predicted demand increases, particularly over the winter months. An annual patient flow and capacity plan template has been developed to guide HHSs in the development of these plans.