Good report for patient transfers

PATIENT transfers from ambulances into Latrobe Regional Hospital’s emergency department exceeded the benchmark rate, according to a recent report.

State Health Minister David Davis said statistics for the three months to the end of March showed 94.7 per cent of patients who arrived at LRH by ambulance had their transfer completed within the 40-minute target time.

He said the benchmark for transfers was for 90 per cent to be completed within that time and LRH transfers to the end of March had improved over the previous three months.

“In the December quarter, 91.7 per cent of transfers were completed in the required 40 minutes, so the latest information shows the community of the Latrobe Valley continues to receive excellent service from their ambulances and hospital,” Mr Davis said.

The minister said Ambulance Victoria transported about 1750 patients to hospital, state-wide every day, with the number of patients increasing from 616,982 in 2009/10 to 639,735 in 2010/11.

He said it was important Ambulance Victoria and hospitals continued “to work together to improve the transfer of patients, which helped free up ambulances to attend other calls”

Earlier this month the State Opposition released documents which showed the hours ambulances spent “ramped” at LRH each month had risen dramatically in past years.

Although hospital performance data shows most patients who arrive at LRH by ambulance were transferred within benchmark times, other figures showing the increased “ramped” hours, overall, reflected an increase in emergency department patient load at hospitals, including LRH.

The State Opposition used Freedom of Information documents to claim ambulances spent too long “sitting in queues, waiting” at hospitals, impinging on their time spent attending emergencies.

Opposition Parliamentary Secretary for Health Wade Noonan said ambulances were “ramping” at LRH for about 150 hours per month, a rise of more than 100 hours per months since 2009/2010.

He said this meant there were “less ambulances available to respond to life-threatening emergencies”.