Patients give up on overcrowded hospitals in droves
Patients give up on overcrowded hospitals in droves

Thousands of patients going untreated

THOUSANDS of patients are walking out of Queensland's overcrowded emergency departments without being seen, with the stream of untreated patients growing.

New figures show 5841 sick people who rushed to hospital for care in March gave up waiting before a doctor could check them - nearly 500 more than in February and 1740 more than in the same month last year.

And rather than just the most low-risk patients shunning long wait times, scores of those who left had been classed as having "imminently life threatening" or "potentially life threatened" conditions.

Health Minister Steven Miles pointed to the explosion in presentations - 18,300 extra in a month - and argued that, despite the rise, more patients were being seen within target times.

Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles says more patients are being seen within target times. File picture
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles says more patients are being seen within target times. File picture

He said more than a third of presentations should be treated by a GP and that people presenting with "minor ailments" had to wait while physicians saved lives.

But of those who walked out, 64 had been classified as Category 2 patients, which means they were suffering an "imminently life threatening" episode, such as a critical illness, very severe pain, serious chest pains, breathing difficulties or severe fractures.

Guidelines say they should be seen within 10 minutes, but Queensland Health data shows only 71 per cent were.

Almost 1900 had been classed as a Category 3 "potentially life threatened" patient, with conditions such as severe illness, heavy bleeding from cuts, major fractures or dehydration.

They should be seen within half an hour but only 62 per cent made it to a doctor in that time.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said public hospitals were "bursting at the seams" due to a lack of investment by State Government.

"Our hardworking nurses, doctors and paramedics are doing the best they can, but they simply need more help on the frontline," she said.

Walkouts were worst in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, particularly at the Gold Coast University, Prince Charles, QEII, Robina, Redcliffe and Logan hospitals.

It comes after The Sunday Mail this week revealed hundreds of patients were languishing in hospital emergency departments for more than 24 hours each month.