Media statement by the New Zealand faculty of The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM)
Thursday 27th November 2008
Wellington has just finished hosting a highly successful 25th anniversary annual scientific meeting of the Australasian
College for Emergency Medicine. The over-arching theme was leadership and quality.
The New Zealand faculty of ACEM would like to applaud the Health Minister in his recent announcement that he is about to
instigate Emergency Department waiting times as a key performance indicator for all hospitals throughout the country.
The time it takes for patients to move through ED to an inpatient ward bed is an important measure of the urgent and
acute care component of public hospitals’ function.
The new minister has shown a willingness to engage senior clinicians in helping us find solutions to some of the
challenges that face us in healthcare delivery.
Whilst elective waiting lists and outpatient services clearly require resource and attention, 75% of patients enter
hospitals acutely via Emergency Departments. These departments are getting busier with more sick and injured patients
who deserve equitable access to quality care and inpatient services. Delays in timely access to inpatient beds known as
access block can lead to adverse outcomes for patients
GP-type patients coming to EDs are NOT in any way a cause of overcrowding in EDs, nor are they a cause of reduced access
to inpatient services. It is critically important that health administrators and the public understand that this deep
seated misconception serves only to distract us from the real issues and solutions to this problem.
The dedicated doctors and nurses in our Emergency Departments are committed to provide excellent quality care as well as
finding solutions to the problem of overcrowding in our EDs. We need to improve access to quality care as opposed to
raising yet more barriers to timely hospital care.