Qld leads states in demanding Morrison respond to hospitals crisis

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has defended her government’s healthcare system amid a ‘code yellow’ crisis across hospitals, saying all states and territories are under similar pressure.

Oct 06, 2021, updated Oct 06, 2021

Northern Queensland on Tuesday joined the rest of the state in issuing code yellows for its biggest hospitals, with warnings going out across Mount Isa, Townsville, Cairns and Mackay as they deal with unprecedented levels of capacity.

On Tuesday it was reported that in September, 31 code yellows were issued for hospitals as they start to run out of beds and ambulances are forced to divert to other emergency departments.

The premier insists the problem is not unique to Queensland as the nation prepares for the re-opening of borders amid the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

Queensland’s public hospitals have 393 staffed intensive care unit beds, with the capacity to expand to 567 beds and 1355 ventilators available.

There are also more than 300 negative pressure rooms or equivalent to treat patients with infectious diseases, a figure that has increased about 20 per cent since the beginning of the pandemic.

In comparison, Victoria currently has 525 people in hospital in with COVID, 94 of them in ICU and 53 on ventilators, as the state recorded 1420 new cases and 11 deaths on Wednesday.

In a joint letter to their federal equivalent Greg Hunt, eight state and territory health ministers have requested immediate additional Commonwealth funding to alleviate the ongoing pressure on health systems.

“That is why we are putting a lot of effort into preparing our hospitals, and now is the time for greater co-operation between the Commonwealth and the states, and that’s exactly what the health ministers have done by writing that letter,” Palaszczuk said on Wednesday.

“You’re seeing great pressures across a lot of hospitals across the nation.

“This is not a unique problem to Queensland. Nearly every other premier raises this as well at national cabinet.

“This is an issue of national concern.”

Queensland’s plan for re-opening still hinges on Doherty Institute modelling alongside the national plan, the premier said, but no date has been set with the state’s population sitting at 48.89 per cent fully vaccinated.

The Australian Medical Association of Queensland says additional action is required in the state’s hospitals before interstate borders re-open.

The organisation has formed a 10-member round table of emergency specialists, surgeons and doctors to develop a route out of the emergency department ambulance ramping crisis.

“The health of our communities depends on taking a fresh approach,” AMAQ President Professor Chris Perry said.

“This group has myriad ideas to fix inefficient hospital processes and systems; what we need now is leadership, funding and collaboration to turn ideas into reality.”

But state opposition leader David Crisafulli says the state government needs to take responsibility for its lack of action.

“It’s just out of control. Once upon a time code yellows were something that captured the attention of the everyday people, because they were so unusual,” he said on Wednesday.

“We’ve now averaged more than one a day in the last month.

“Get the hospitals, up to scratch, because it is inevitable that at some stage COVID will visit us in a big way.

“Take some responsibility and fix a crisis of your own making that has been there for over half a decade.

“The Queensland Health Crisis is real and it will impact real families if something isn’t done.”

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