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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Record numbers in Cairns Emergency Department

AT a time when record numbers of patients are attending Queensland Emergency Departments, the most critical patients are still being seen on time, although ingrown toenails have a bit of a wait.

Patients with less serious conditions are being reminded that accessing treatment from more appropriate sources – such as GPs, pharmacies, satellite hospitals, or urgent care clinics – will help keep emergency departments available for emergencies.

The latest Queensland Health performance data shows that all category 1 patients – the most urgent cases – who presented to the Cairns Hospital emergency department were seen by a clinician within two minutes of arriving, while 73 per cent of all cases were seen within clinically recommended times.

Patients with conditions such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), earaches and ingrown toenails don’t necessarily need to attend an emergency department.

In the three-month period from April to June this year, 6,368 category 5 patients attended Cairns and Hinterland Hospital emergency departments seeking treatment, many of whom could have sought their less-urgent treatment elsewhere.

Some presentations included requests for medical certificates, basic over-the-counter prescriptions, and suture removals.

In the most extreme case, a Cairns Hospital patient waited over 7 hours to be seen by an emergency department.

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) Chief Executive Leena Singh said that less urgent presentations place undue pressure on the system and potentially put the lives of others at risk.

“No patient will be refused care at any of our hospitals, however seriously ill and injured patients will always be prioritised in our EDs,” she said.

“If you are unsure whether you need to go to the emergency department, there are a number of other options available to you.

“We understand it can be difficult to know when to go to the emergency department, but there are a few things you can do to help make a decision.

If you are unsure whether the emergency department is the best option for you, call your GP or 13 HEALTH for advice. You can also visit the CHHHS website for more information on our emergency departments and other health services.

From 2022 through to April 2023, Queensland Hospital Emergency departments saw presentations including:

  • 36,911 presentations for a UTI
  • 28,064 presentations for attention to surgical dresses and stitches
  • 11,995 presentations for an ear infection
  • 6,662 requests for repeat medication prescriptions
  • 3,764 requests for a medical certificate
  • 1,056 presentations for an ingrown toenail
  • 280 presentations for sunburn
  • 79 presentations for hiccups

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: Optus outage impacts Cairns customers and Compassionate laws give more choice to Queenslanders.

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