Meander Valley Gazette

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MS patient waits & waits

NewsJoanne EisemannComment

APRIL 2018 | Hayley Manning

THE LAUNCESTON General Hospital’s protracted struggle with an overcrowded emergency department, ambulance ramping and a shortage of ward beds, has prompted the ‘Bring Your Own Bed’ industrial campaign by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation.

Deloraine’s Anita Griffith, who has been forced to call for emergency ambulance transportation to the LGH Emergency Department (ED) due to the progressive and unpredictable nature of her Multiple Sclerosis symptoms, said she is far from impressed with the ED and Ambulance Tasmania. On one occasion she was left on a bed in ED for three days before being admitted to a ward, and more recently she endured a one and a half hour wait for an ambulance during a severe medical episode, during which she experienced difficulty breathing, and pain so immense she eventually passed out.

Ambulance Tasmania Regional Duty Manager, Alistair Shephard, said the Meander Valley Municipality has two ambulances, two paramedics and 15 active volunteers who work over a rotating roster. If a paramedic is already attending a call, an ambulance is sent from Launceston, then Sheffield or Latrobe.

Minister for Health, Michael Ferguson, responded to these concerns by saying he is committed to investing $125 million in Ambulance Services, with the recruitment of extra paramedics in regional areas, upgrades to regional hospitals, and the launch of an integrated medical search and rescue helicopter. The Minister has also previously announced plans for a ‘major redevelopment of the LGH,’ that included a new ward with an additional 40 beds.

However, Member for Lyons MP, Brian Mitchell, said the Turnbull and Hodgman Liberal Government has plans to cut $11 million from Tasmanian hospitals over the next four years including $1.95 million less for the LGH. In addition, he said the LGH had lost its Emergency Medicine Training Accreditation, making it even harder to recruit doctors and specialists to Tasmanian hospitals.

The Australian Medical Association’s Dr Stuart Day, said specialist ED trainees required supervision from Australian ticketed emergency specialists, and the LGH now had just two remaining ED doctors, after several doctors resigned and others retired. He said intern loss would have a serious impact on patient care at the LGH in 2019, if the college did not review its decision over the next few months.

Photo | Hayley Manning