Frankston Hospital ambulance wait escalates

FRANKSTON Hospital had some of the worst ambulance ramping figures in the state late last year, according to figures released last week.

Ambulance ramping occurs when emergency departments can't take on new patients, usually because they are full. Ambulances are forced to wait with their patients until a bed becomes available.

The statistics for the September and December quarters, which the state opposition had campaigned to be released, showed Frankston Hospital failed to offload patients at the emergency department within 40 minutes 40.2 per cent of the time over those two quarters last year.

In the September quarter, 665 patients waited more than 24 hours to be admitted to the hospital when a gastroenteritis outbreak clashed with construction works and seasonal demand to close beds.

Statewide, the hospital system met its 40-minute target 77.4 per cent of the time in the December quarter. Elective surgery patients suffered a statewide drop in the number of procedures done on time in the December quarter, also reflected at south-east hospitals.

Elective surgery waiting lists grew to 47,760 in the December quarter, from 43,173 in the previous December quarter. In the same timeframe, elective surgery patients treated went up from 37,326 to 38,219.

Frankston Hospital patients suffered a relatively bigger jump in the waiting list from 1540 in December 2011 to 1715 in December last year.

Frankston also treated more patients, from 1214 to 1335, over that timeframe.

All elective surgeries deemed urgent last year were done within set targets of 30 days.

Victorian emergency department patients were seen within set time limits 73 per cent of the time in the same quarter.

The statistics will be seen in the context of a fund fight between Victoria and the Federal Government which cut $107 million from its contribution to the state health system.

Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek announced late last month that she would pay the $107 million directly to hospitals, slamming the Victorian Government as "cruel and incompetent".

The statistics show that elective surgery waiting lists rose prior to December 7 when the funds were withdrawn. State Health Minister David Davis said the lists grew because hospitals anticipated cuts.

"The ongoing funding restrictions will mean that in future even more people will be forced to wait longer for their surgery," he said.

Mr Davis pointed to an increase of treatments in emergency departments and of elective surgery patients.

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