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‘The Queensland health system is in deep crisis’

The Queensland government could find itself “slugged with compensation lawsuits” as a result of increased waiting times for ambulances, this compensation lawyer has warned.

user iconLauren Croft 20 April 2022 Politics
Queensland health system

Photo Credit: Queensland Ambulance Service

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Following the disclosure of documents that allege patients have been waiting hours on end for ambulance arrivals, litigation director of Gold Coast-based Queensland law firm Parker Simmonds Solicitors & Lawyers Bruce Simmonds has warned that compensation lawsuits could be on the rise in the state.

The confidential documents, which Mr Simmonds said revealed Queensland’s ambulance crisis is worsening, covered three of Queensland’s busiest ambulance stations – Southport, Brisbane and Maroochydore. They claim patients have been waiting hours for an ambulance to arrive, with paramedics sleeping at stations and being stood down due to fatigue.

More than 900 pages of documents were obtained by the state opposition under Right to Information laws. One disclosure revealed significant delays at Southport over several days, with one patient waiting 10.5 hours for an ambulance last October.

 
 

“I can’t imagine the frustration and discomfort a patient would experience enduring such a long wait. When we call for an ambulance there’s an expectation it will be dispatched promptly,” Mr Simmonds said.

“Plainly the Queensland Ambulance Service has some serious issues blighting its ability to function and the state government as employer would be liable for any legal actions that might follow failure to respond to an ambulance call out.”

The disclosure also revealed that paramedics have routinely been warned to expect delays at hospitals, and in one instance, a patient in a wheelchair was ramped for more than three hours.

“One of the biggest problems with ramping is the appropriate triage by the hospital. Not only does ramping place the patient at risk but creates an additional workload to staff to assess and monitor the patient,” Mr Simmonds explained.

“If there is ramping, hospital medical staff and resources are put under pressure. We don’t need the angels looking after us in hospital to break down under pressure due to poor planning.”

Mr Simmonds called on Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to increase the budget spend for the health system – rather than focusing government spend and attention on the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

“If you call an ambulance in your hour of need and it doesn’t turn up, or you get ramped at the hospital for hours, it’s a sign the Queensland health system is in deep crisis,” he said.

“Our Premier needs to be paying attention to fixing this crisis now, which is way more important than her grandiose plans for the Olympics.”