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Hospital log-jam crisis talks to be held

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Moving NDIS and aged care patients out of hospital beds will be top of the agenda when Health Minister Chris Picton meets with his state and federal counterparts over the next two days.

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Picton says it’s a key factor in the current bed-block crisis plaguing the state’s hospitals.

It comes as SA Health says it’s continuing to postpone “non-urgent” elective surgery and “non-clinical non-essential activities” to free-up staff and beds.

Yesterday morning there were 62 admitted patients in the 69-capacity RAH emergency department, clogging the ED while waiting for a ward bed – a record level according to the doctors’ union.

“We have so many patients who are stuck inside our hospitals who could be getting care in the community, particularly people who are on the NDIS or waiting for aged care places,” Picton told reporters yesterday.

“That is a huge opportunity if we can unblock some of those issues.”

Picton said he would discuss the problem with his state and federal counterparts at meetings over the next two days.

“The Federal Government have already made some commitments through (Federal NDIS Minister) Bill Shorten and the disability ministers around NDIS blockages that we welcome but we want to do more,” Picton said.

“Even in the interim before any arrangements, we are certainly looking at any way that we can on an interim basis discharge NDIS/aged care people into other accommodation and free up those beds in the system.”

Responding to the bed-jam crisis, a spokesperson for the Central Adelaide Local Health Network said hospitals had been experiencing an “above average number of presentations” in recent days.

“Many of our inpatients are very sick or have complex needs, resulting in extended stays in hospital,” the spokesperson said.

“This is reducing our ability to admit new patients.

“In recent weeks, we have opened additional beds across CALHN and commenced a trial of a new Acute Assessment Centre at the RAH to reduce pressure on the Emergency Department (ED).

“We have also introduced the Inter Hospital Transfer Unit, with this unit remaining open (last night) to reduce the number of patients unnecessarily presenting to the ED and assist with the discharge process.”

The spokesperson said “non-clinical non-essential activities at our hospitals have been postponed to increase the number of staff available to provide patient care”.

SA Health says two “non-urgent” elective surgeries were postponed at the RAH yesterday.

“We know that any delay to elective surgery is challenging for patients, and any postponed surgeries will be rescheduled as soon as possible,” the CALHN spokesperson said.

Authorities were also focusing on “alternative care pathways” including redirecting patients to GPs, SA Virtual Care Services and a Hospital Avoidance Service.

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