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Australia: Ambulance ramping is a signal the health system is floundering. Solutions need to extend beyond EDs

Healthcare systems across Australia are buckling in the wake of COVID waves and the flu season. Pictures of ambulances piling up outside hospitals have become commonplace in the media. Known as “ramping”, it’s the canary in the coalmine of a health system.

As a major symptom of a health system under stress, state governments across Australia are investing unprecedented amounts into ambulance services, emergency departments (EDs) and hospitals. South Australia has committed to an increased recruitment of 350 new paramedics. Likewise, New South Wales has committed to 1,850 extra paramedics.

Victoria, meanwhile, has committed an additional A$162 million for system-wide solutions to counter paramedic wait times, on top of the A$12 billion already committed to the wider health system. This could begin to alleviate the system pressures that lead to ambulance ramping.

But what happens when the paramedics return yet again to ED with another patient? Will they simply end up ramped again?

We also need to consider better care in the community – and paramedics could play a role in this too.

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Source: The Conversation, 21 July 2022


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