Queensland health system buckling: LNP

·3-min read

The death of a Queenslander where six triple-zero calls were made and an ambulance arriving nine hours later underlines the state's health crisis, the state opposition says.

Twenty deaths involving ambulance delays or ramping at hospitals are outlined in significant incident reports conducted by the Queensland Ambulance Service between January 2021 and April 2022.

While Health Minister Yvette D'Ath stressed no causal links have been made between the delays and the deaths, Opposition Leader David Crisafulli said the documents were proof of a broken system.

"Don't blame the paramedics, don't blame the doctors or nurses - it's not their fault," he said on Sunday.

"We stand with every health worker in this state buckling under the pressure of a broken system."

Released under the freedom of information act, one review outlines the decline of a 69-year-old patient and their repeated calls for help before their death in June 2021.

The patient first rang triple zero at 2.05am reporting severe abdominal pain, vomiting and weakness.

While the incident was listed as urgent, nothing happened until 7.10am when an ambulance supervisor reviewed the patient's condition and advised of high demand for paramedics.

The patient's family rang their GP, whose a preliminary diagnosis of sepsis was relayed to the ambulance control centre about 9am.

But the job wasn't upgraded to 1C or emergency level until a sixth triple-zero call about 10.40am.

The first ambulance dispatched at 10.47am was diverted to a more urgent job, which meant the patient wasn't seen until 11.21am.

However, by then the patient was found unresponsive and cool to touch.

The internal ambulance review of the case notes the response was unacceptable and involved "several missed opportunities", while acknowledging "very high demand" overnight had continued the next day due to "extreme hospital delays".

On another day of extreme hospital delays in December 2021, a job involving a person who had collapsed with cuts to their arms and hands was not given an initial lights-and-sirens response.

The mistake was rectified after 80 minutes with paramedics soon after finding the patient deceased over the edge of a bathtub.

Ms D'Ath said the loss of each person was tragic but stressed the ambulance service had responded to 1.8 million calls over the 15-month period related to the reports.

The coronavirus pandemic had placed "incredible pressure" on the health system, as in every jurisdiction across the globe, she said.

That had compounded with an increased trend of patients taking up hospital beds when they should have been in aged care, disability care or GP clinics.

"(GPs) are either not available in their area when needed or are not affordable," Ms D'Ath said.

"Every single one of those issues have caused pressure and built up over many many years."

She dismissed the LNP's plan to fix the system as nothing more than rhetoric and admonished them for previous cuts to the health system.