Doctors in the Australian Capital Territory have been requested to seek other referral options before sending patients to emergency departments says the letter from ACT Health.
Due to overwhelming level of service demand, GPs need to contact the ED admitting officer for advice before referring a patient to the Canberra Hospital ED – ABC reports.
“Please note that Canberra Hospital and Health Services are currently experiencing very high levels of service demand and patient acuity,” suggests the letter with the subject line: Important Message from Canberra Hospital.
“Of course, we all want to have the best care for the patients under our care, however we are seeking your support as we seek to manage this demand and acuity such that services are available for those in most urgent need.”
Vicki Dunne, Opposition Health spokeswoman expressed concerns about the letter.
“GPs only really refer patients to the hospital when they need hospitalisation and hospital treatment,” Dune said.
“I’m very concerned that GPs will be encouraged to delay treatment for their patients and it will have adverse medical outcomes. That could be that someone gets sicker for longer and it may mean that people will die because there are not enough services available.”, she added.
Following the recent severe flu season in Australia, the hospital has experienced immense demands for its services and remained at Alert Level 3.
Recently, the Government has announced that Canberra Hospital will receive $112 million over a period of four years. Out of the $112 million budget, $47.2 million will go to the ED, intensive care and ward beds.