Hospital emergency sparks heated debate in parliament
SEVERAL MPs have been given their marching orders from Question Time this morning as the State Government faces a grilling over hospitals in the southeast reaching capacity.
Health Minister Steven Miles has been given the boot, along with Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates. Gregory MP Lachlan Miller was reportedly also told to leave.
Every public hospital in the state's southeast, except the Queensland Children's Hospital, was at capacity yesterday, forcing the state to release emergency funds for private hospital beds.
The State Government will spend $3 million on beds in private hospitals, with every available bed at 10 southeast Queensland public facilities last night in use.
Health authorities have blamed a tsunami of admissions, never before seen in Queensland at this time of year, which they admit had been building for weeks.
Beds were last night being opened up at private hospitals with patients scheduled for non-urgent surgeries warned they may have to wait.
All hospitals yesterday descended into code yellow - an internal emergency code signalling a loss of essential services.
But Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young denied the hospital system was in crisis.
Dr Young said the additional money would open up beds in the private sector, beds that hadn't been commissioned in public facilities yet and help with additional staff.
"Of course it's more than just the money for that system, we've got to get the staff as well," she said.
"It's a lot of work but it has started (last night)."
Dr Young said Queensland Health used its beds "very, very effectively" and claimed the current situation did not indicate an urgent need for more hospital beds.
"You've got to remember that a bed is actually an expensive entity," she said.
"The average cost is about $720. We don't keep them empty because that's wasted money."
The State Health Emergency Co-ordination Centre yesterday called on the Commonwealth to escalate access to aged-care homes and NDIS accommodation for the 200 patients waiting in hospitals for aged-care placements and NDIS assessments.
There was no single cause that contributed to the extraordinary admissions spike, however, Dr Young said the summer flu season was 2.7 times worse than average.
Among the private hospitals being used are St Vincent's and the Mater.
"If you're in less need of acute health services you will have to wait," she said.
"Any pressure that people can remove from the system will help in the whole system going forward." Opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates said that Queensland's public health system was now in crisis.
"Warning our public hospitals in southeast Queensland are full is unprecedented and a symptom of the carnage Labor's policies are having on patient care," she said.
Health Minister Steven Miles called on Queenslanders to use ambulances and hospitals only if it was a genuine emergency.
"Of course, everyone who attends will get the best possible care," he said.