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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Winter illnesses keeping emergency departments busy

    Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services
    The Honourable Cameron Dick

    Thursday, August 10, 2017

    Winter illnesses keeping emergency departments busy

    Queenslanders are being reminded to keep emergency departments for emergencies as hospitals across the state feel the pressure with winter illness presentations peaking.

    Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said emergency department staff were experiencing an influx of patients as temperatures cool across the state.

    “We know the flu is affecting a lot of Queenslanders,” he said.

    “As of last week there had been 10,831 flu notifications and the past week has seen a steep increase. As of today, we’ve had 14,455 laboratory confirmed cases across the state since January – an increase of 3624.

    “It’s an important reminder for everyone to take steps to help protect themselves against it, it’s never too late to get vaccinated and I’d encourage anyone yet to get a shot to book in right away.

    “Emergency Departments are under a lot of pressure statewide, not just from people suffering from the flu. Last month our Emergency Departments dealt with an additional 8,399 presentations – a 5.9 per cent increase in activity on this time last year.

    “During the same period we’ve had 40,360 ambulance arrivals at public hospitals, an increase of almost 5 per cent compared to last year.

    “In addition, there was a 7.3 per cent increase in presentations in critically ill Category 1 patients requiring immediate attention in Emergency Departments.

    “The Palaszczuk Government is implementing the $10 million South East Queensland Emergency Action Plan announced last month to deal with the growing demand on our EDs; the five-point plan included more paramedics, new models of care, increased hospital capacity, and better service conditions.

    “This action plan is certainly going a long way to help meet this increasing demand but we also need support from the community, which is why we’re asking the public to keep our ambulances and emergency departments for emergencies only.

    “But Queenslanders can also do their bit to help themselves and help others. This includes getting vaccinations, good hygiene and seeing a GP rather than attending an Emergency Department if you have the flu.

    “When it comes to the flu, consider the urgency of your emergency and think about going to your GP not the ED.”

    Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Emergency Specialist Dr David Rosengren is also reminding patients with non-urgent health care needs to opt for a GP visit.

    “While we will never turn away anyone requiring medical treatment, patients needing life-saving treatment will always be seen first. This means that if you present to an ED with a condition that could be better managed by your GP, you may wait for some time before being seen.

    “We ask you to please be patient if you need to wait longer than normal so our staff can treat most serious cases first.

    “If it’s not an emergency, you could be utilising resources that could have been valuable to a critical patient in need.”

    Minister Dick said that despite this increased pressure hospitals and the ambulance service was performing strongly.

    “Our EDs are providing care to more urgent and complex patients than ever before, at the same time as facing increased demand for services. Alongside this we have maintained or improved performance across other areas such as specialist outpatients and elective surgery.”


    YTD 2017 laboratory confirmed influenza by Hospital and Health Service, 1 January to 6 August 2017

    Torres and Cape 36                                      Sunshine Coast 1,111

    Cairns and Hinterland 592                             Metro North 3,474

    North West 46                                              Metro South 3,566

    Townsville 806                                             Darling Downs 1,236

    Mackay 233                                                 West Moreton 760

    Central Queensland 336                                South West 74

    Central West 51                                           Wide Bay 363

    Gold Coast 1,771



    Media contact:              

    Emma McBryde 0447 155 332