Tasmanian Government Urged to Align Timeframes of Emergency Department Reviews and Mandatory Offloading of Ramped Patients

21 November 2023

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), Tasmanian Branch continue to raise concerns about access and flow issues leading to care delays, including ambulance ramping, yet the Tasmanian Government still have not committed to resolving these critical challenges.

A Major Hospital Emergency Department Review is underway commissioned by the Department of Health and a Joint Select Committee convened by the Legislative Council with this process set to undertake a review of transfer of care delays imminently. The Government remains hesitant to delay the implementation of the mandatory ambulance offload policy due to commence in April 2024, until the recommendations from these reviews are implemented and access and flow is improved.

The Ambulance offload policy, which mandates the offloading of all ambulance patients ramped in the Emergency Department (ED) within 60 minutes irrespective of ED capacity, has sparked apprehension among healthcare professionals and stakeholders. The policy may lead to access and flow issues resulting in the mandatory offloading of patients to corridors and triage areas instead of designated ED beds without appropriate levels of staff to provide quality care.

“While of course our members understand the importance of having ambulances and paramedics available in the community to respond to emergency calls, shifting the risk to overcrowded Emergency Departments without adequate space, staff, or capacity is not a viable solution,” said ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary, Emily Shepherd.

“We recognise the urgent need for action to address access and flow issues which will in turn allow the safe offload of ramped patients into appropriate ED beds. However, the implementation of the review recommendations must occur prior to the ambulance offload policy in order to ensure patient safety.”

The call for a delay in the implementation of the offload policy comes as the Major Hospital Emergency Department Review and the Joint Select Committee prepare to examine the root causes of care delays and ambulance ramping. The ANMF emphasises the necessity of aligning timelines to ensure that the implementation of the transfer of care is safe for all parties involved.

“We urge the Tasmanian Government to prioritise the recommendations stemming from these vital reviews and commit to a timeline that puts the safety of patients and the efficiency of our healthcare system at the forefront.”

The outcomes of the Major Hospital Emergency Department Review and the Joint Select Committee are expected to provide crucial insights into the access and flow issues affecting emergency healthcare in Tasmania. The ANMF remains steadfast in its commitment to working collaboratively with the government to implement effective solutions that enhance patient care and alleviate the strain on healthcare providers. Ensuring recommendations are implemented to improve access and flow prior to the implementation of the mandatory ambulance offload policy will ensure the safety of both patients and staff alike.

Media contact:
Emily Shepherd, ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary
Mobile: 0400 884 021
Email: Emily.shepherd@anmftas.org.au