Leaked footage from one of Adelaide’s largest hospitals has revealed patients in 24 ambulances were left waiting in the back of the vehicles outside a full emergency department over a three-hour period.
The ambulance delays, known as “ramping”, occurred at the Royal Adelaide Hospital on Monday, with ambulances experiencing an average ramp time of one hour and 48 minutes, according to the state opposition.
Opposition health and wellbeing spokesman Chris Picton said the issue was continually worsening due to budget cuts to the health department.
“It’s awful news for our patients stuck in the ambulances, our paramedics and nurses looking to support people but also for other people waiting in the community for an ambulance,” he said.
“Despite the fact the government promised that at the end of April last year they would have ended ramping, we’re seeing now at the start of 2021 there is another year of ramping drama for our health system.”
Mr Picton said paramedics had told him about the flow on effects from Monday’s ramping, including one case who waited more than 45 minutes for an ambulance when dispatch should have taken 16 minutes based on their priority rating.
He also said the RAH was diverting less urgent cases to other facilities because of the demand it was under.
“We also saw significant delays for ambulances at Flinders Medical Centre and Lyell McEwin Hospital as well.
“The government cuts are causing this ramping to continue to get worse and ultimately put patients lives at risk.”
Health Minister Stephen Wade said every hospital network experienced “peaks and troughs” and the state government was building its capacity to cope with surges.
“Ramping is unacceptable and, unlike our predecessors, we are actively addressing it,” he said.
Mr Wade said the measures to help ease pressure on emergency departments included investing millions to upgrade and expand existing EDs and increasing resources to the Ambulance Service.
“We thank our paramedics and all frontline health staff for the incredible work they are doing during these unprecedented times.”
SA Health has been contacted for comment.