Tas hospital delays prompts policy shift

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Tasmania will divert transferring hospital patients away from emergency departments to combat ambulance ramping and delays.

The state government on Monday announced a new inter-hospital transfer policy in which patients will bypass the emergency department if clinically appropriate.

"When a patient is transferred, they are often required to be re-admitted through the emergency department, which can cause delays and contribute to ramping," Premier and Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff said.

Some 43 per cent of people who presented to the state's emergency departments in April were not seen within the recommended timeframe, according to government data.

The Launceston General Hospital's emergency department in late May experienced a "significant level of acute care demand" prompting the health department to urge people with non-life-threatening conditions to reconsider attending.

Mr Rockliff said the policy will allow ambulances to get back on the road quicker.

"The ... policy will reduce the need for a repeated clinical assessment for patients transferred from another hospital, which will increase capacity for our emergency department to treat other patients," he said.

"(It) will not only ease the pressure on our emergency departments, but it will also help address broader access and flow challenges in our hospitals and support an efficient patient handover process between ambulance and hospital staff."

An Australian Medical Association report released last month showed the time it takes for patients to be transferred from an ambulance to hospital in Tasmania had been on the rise since 2015/16.

More than 96 per cent of patients were transferred within 30 minutes in 2015/16, compared to 80 per cent in 2020/21.

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