Nurse visits for non-emergency triple-0 calls to help reduce 'hellish' SA hospital crowding

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Unprecedented demand has been placed on Adelaide's hospitals, with record admissions to emergency departments, SA Health

nurse-visits-for-nonemergency-triple0-calls-to-help-reduce--and-039;hellish-and-039;-sa-hospital-crowding photo 1 Photo: Ambulances lined up outside the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. (ABC News)

District nurses will replace paramedics on some callouts, while extra beds will be made available to deal with "unprecedented" demand and "code whites" at emergency departments across Adelaide.

SA Health said there had been a record 8,538 presentations at EDs over the past week, which was 1,000 more than the same time last year.

The SA Ambulance Service also complained of unnecessary triple-0 calls to deal with stubbed toes and frequent toilet trips, particularly from people in their 20s and 30s.

"Last week was our busiest week ever," SA Ambulance Service CEO Jason Killens said.

"People have rung us for a toothache, people who have stubbed their toe and people who have been to the toilet twice in an hour."

"We'll be sending some calls to RDNS, the less serious calls that don't necessarily need emergency ambulances, which helps us to respond to the most serious patients as quickly as we can."

Under a so-called "three-pronged strategy" starting today, district nurses will replace ambulances where patients are deemed to not require paramedic support.

SA Health chief executive Vickie Kaminski said it would work quickly to open up 150 more beds at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, as well as 12 beds at Modbury Hospital, a unit at Hampstead Hospital, in addition to extending contracts with private hospitals.

She said hospitals would also increase nurse-led triage and patient discharges to keep them flowing more smoothly.

"This is happening across the country, we're seeing it happen across the world if we look at the busyness of hospital emergency departments," Ms Kaminski said.

SA Health said it would have to cover the cost pressures, but explained it was comparable to the price of ramping where ambulances were queued up outside emergency departments.

Frontline staff 'suffering' under increased strain

Health Minister Jack Snelling said doctors and nurses had been going "above and beyond the call of duty" to deal with the situation.

nurse-visits-for-nonemergency-triple0-calls-to-help-reduce--and-039;hellish-and-039;-sa-hospital-crowding photo 2 Photo: Extra beds will be opened at suburban hospitals to help deal with overcrowding. (ABC News: Matt Coleman)

"We've just seen, over the last few days, quite a spectacular increase in the number of presentations to EDs," he said.

Phil Palmer, from the Ambulance Employees Association, said paramedics were regularly experiencing "days from hell".

"Every time I think the day is the worst we've ever seen, we have another day," he said.

"This last few weeks has been a horrendous time for ambos, with a workload very high, not enough resources to meet that overload … and that gets compounded by hospital overcrowding and ramping."

"We can't have half the ambulance service sitting outside the ED doing ED work when in fact the community really needs them."

Elizabeth Dabars, from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, welcomed the increased role for nurses.

"Not only does this provide some immediate relief … but it will provide long-term solutions to long-term problems," she said.

Patients also being transferred to regional hospitals

Some patients will also be taken to hospitals on Adelaide's fringe and in the country to deal with the ballooning numbers.

Stephen Wade, the Opposition's health spokesman, said the city would now have a second-class ambulance service.

"It's extremely disappointing, the fact of the matter is this crisis is completely of the Government's creation, they have chosen to move a hospital in the height of the flu season, these are the consequences."

SA Health also said all non-elective surgeries would be postponed, and some patients would be admitted directly to wards, bypassing the emergency department.

It said people who still needed urgent care should call triple-0 or proceed to hospital.

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Article Nurse visits for non-emergency triple-0 calls to help reduce 'hellish' SA hospital crowding compiled by Original article here