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FMC faces chronic overcrowding

Local Emergency Department clinicians claim that the Weatherill Government’s emergency care model for southern Adelaide is fundamentally flawed and will see the Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) Emergency Department overwhelmed by a flood of patients. 

Dr Lynton Stacey, former Head of the Noarlunga Hospital Emergency Department, said that he predicts that the FMC Emergency Department will face chronic overcrowding and ongoing ramping under Labor’s plan.

The Weatherill Government has failed to release any data on patient flows but comments suggest it is planning for an increase of less than 1 per cent from downgraded Emergency Departments – in Noarlunga’s case, less than 500 cases a year.

Local clinicians have told the State Liberals that they estimate that the increased flow to Flinders Medical Centre is likely to be more than 20,000 (about 43% of current Noarlunga ED presentations).

FMC would not cope with what would be a 30 per cent increase in ED presentations, particularly if the Weatherill Government is only planning to expand the capacity of their ED by 1 per cent. FMC would become the largest Emergency Department in Australia, the first mega-ED in a risky experiment with an untested model.

The State Liberals reiterate their call for the Minister to release his modelling of patient flows and details of the plan to upgrade the Flinders Medical Centre Emergency Department.

The range of cases which clinicians suggest would not be suitable for the proposed Walk-In Emergency Clinic at Noarlunga Hospital include:

  • abdominal pain;
  • renal/bilary colic;
  • asthma;
  • diagnosis of non-cardiac chest pain;
  • mental health patients; and,
  • dislocated shoulders.

Ambulances already bypass Noarlunga for a range of life-threatening conditions.

“Residents of southern Adelaide should expect more ambulance ramping and longer waiting times for treatment in FMC’s emergency department as a result of the closure of Noarlunga’s ED and the closure of the Repatriation General Hospital,” said Shadow Minister for Health Stephen Wade.

“The Weatherill Labor Government’s plan is driven by saving money, not saving lives. We are in the dangerous situation where the Government seems to be trying to bank the benefits while being blind to the risks.”