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$21.6m Boost for Emergency Departments

Tasmanians will have quicker access to emergency care and shorter waiting times for treatment, thanks to more than $21 million in improvements detailed by the Australian and Tasmanian Governments.
 
The joint funding will help relieve demand pressures on public hospital emergency departments across Tasmania.
 
The Rudd Government will provide $16.6 million over four years across Tasmania’s hospitals, its ambulance service and mental health services. The State Government will be contributing $5 million in 2009/10 to address immediate emergency department pressure points.
 
The announcement was made in Hobart by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Premier David Bartlett.
 
Mr Rudd said the Commonwealth and State governments are determined to deliver real improvements in health care to Tasmanian patients after years of neglect by the Liberal Party.
 
“Every Australian, every Tasmanian, depends on their public hospital, and we are investing strategically nationwide through the $750 million Taking Pressure Off Emergency Departments package to improve hospital services.
 
“The funding is conditional on tight performance measures which will require the hospitals to meet appropriate treatment benchmarks,” Mr Rudd said.
 
Mr Bartlett said the new investments continue the service improvements being delivered under Tasmania’s Health Plan.
 
“Funding of almost $9 million for new mental health emergency services will have a double benefit for the community,” Mr Bartlett said.
 
“Most importantly it will mean that Tasmanians with acute mental illness will get access to appropriate treatment and support at the earliest opportunity. But it also will mean that our Emergency Departments work more smoothly for other patients.
 
“In 2007-08 there were a total of 4,330 presentations at EDs for mental illness and behavioural disorders – that’s about one every two hours. This initiative will ensure that our hard-working ED staff will have specialist support in dealing with this large and complex group of patients.
 
“Together with the new alternative pathway program to divert non-urgent patients before they get to hospital, this should make a noticeable difference to Tasmanians presenting for emergency care,” Mr Bartlett said.
 
The $21.6 million four-year Emergency Department improvement program includes:

• $3 million this year to address RHH emergency department pressure points and almost $3.5 million to improve patient flow, ensure specialist mental health nursing cover 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and introduce a nurse-led triage and treat program for patients with non-urgent presentations;

• $2 million this year to address LGH emergency department pressure points and $2.4 million to provide specialist mental health nursing coverage in the ED 24 hours a day 7 days a week;

• $3.8 million to redevelop the ED at the NWRH at Burnie, including 8 new general treatment bays, a new secure psychiatric treatment area with 24/7 specialist mental health nurse staffing, a discharge lounge and a discharge planner to enhance early discharge;

• $3.5 million to enable Mental Health Services to create new dedicated Emergency Crisis Assessment and Treatment (ECAT) teams in the North, South and North West to provide specialist support to hospital EDs in the management and treatment of patients presenting with significant mental illness;

• $842,000 for the Tasmanian Ambulance and Health Transport Service to relieve pressure on EDs by targeting ambulance ramping and improving coordination of all pre and post hospital ambulance and patient transport services, and introducing new clinical protocols and training for all paramedics in safe assessment and referral of appropriate patients and conditions to alternative care pathways; and

• $2 million for a new Statewide Emergency IT system to enhance patient outcomes by improving the capture and real-time availability of vital patient information to all treating clinicians.