On this day a year ago the ANF (Vic. branch) launched a third radio ad:

I’m Lisa Fitzpatrick, a nurse of 31 years, and the Secretary of the ANF (Victorian branch). Our hospitals are now beyond capacity and demand is increasing, The Baillieu government has rejected fifty ANF productivity improvements. They’ve said “no” to the one extra emergency nurse, who could free up ambulances and paramedics. The government’s plan is about saving money, not lives.
Mr Baillieu, don’t ask  nurses and midwives to do more with less – respect our work. Voice your support at respectourwork.com.au
Authorised by Lisa Fitzpatrick, Secretary, ANF (Victorian branch)

At the time, and this continues to be a problem a year later, ambulance ramping was endemic – Frankston hospital, which is now the closest main hospital from Portsea up, was particularly hit but no major hospitla was exempt.

Ramping is where, because the workload of an Emergency Department makes in unsafe to take over their treatment, patients brought in by ambulance must be cared for by paramedics. An additional ED nurse would free up three vehicles and six paramedics, allowing faster ambulance response times, quicker patient processing, and reducing paramedic frustration, burnout and fatigue, while also facilitating smoother ED running and improved patient care.

The Baillieu government rejected out of hand ANF’s  proposal to increase ED staffing at known peak times, stating that this would constitute a cost to the nursing budget but a productivity gain for the Ambulance Service. Forget the fact that the delays caused by ramping spill over for hours, to all patients in the department (lengthening admission times, increasing fatigue and the likelihood of mistakes) – this refusal is a clear indication that the government sees the public health system as discrete elements rather than an interconnected whole; it would rather have short-term financial gain then a cohesive, smoothly functioning system, even though the latter is both more productive and less expensive.

It’s been a year, and as long as ambulances ramp, emergency departments are over capacity, and as long as I live, I will remember. 751 days, Mr Baillieu – and counting.

Ambulance ramping - Austin

Ambulance ramping at the Austin last year (photo courtesy of the Herald-Sun)
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