Hospital feels the strain

Highlighted by WA Labor last week, the statistics showed the time ambulances were left waiting, or �ramped�, at the JHC emergency department for the first three months of 2015 rose 23.2 per cent on the same period in 2014.

Ambulances were ramped for 816.7 hours from January to March, up from 662.7 hours last year. The increase was among the biggest of all Perth hospitals, with others such as Sir Charles Gairdner (17.5 per cent) and Swan District Hospital (22.4 per cent) experiencing a smaller rise.

In a further indication of the pressure on JHC, ramping times at the campus had increased by 193 per cent since 2012, according to Labor health spokesman Roger Cook.

A North Metropolitan Health Service spokesman outlined the hospital�s plight, saying patient �acuity� had risen; acuity referring to the seriousness of a condition. JHC had experienced an increase in patients presenting with more severe conditions, thus putting pressure on the emergency department and delaying ambulance patients with less serious matters.

�These factors impact on patient flow, and in turn, influence ambulance ramping,� he said.

�The hospital continues to work closely with St John Ambulance to improve processes.�

The spokesman emphasised patients were not left waiting outside in an ambulance but taken into hospital on a trolley and prioritised for treatment.

He said St John officers would wait with the patient at the campus if required, which resulted in ramping.

Patients with urgent conditions were seen immediately.

Health Minister Kim Hames was concerned about the increases, saying the northern suburbs were a major government focus.

�We are currently examining options for expanding health facilities at Joondalup and considering future needs further to the north,� he said.

Mr Cook said the situation did not look good with the flu season approaching, putting pressure on Dr Hames to act.

�Dr Hames has been brushing aside concerns about ambulance ramping for years by claiming everything will be okay when Fiona Stanley Hospital opens,� he said.

�Well, Fiona Stanley has opened, and ramping is worse than ever.�