Four ambulances caught in gridlock at South Coast District Hospital in Victor Harbor

Four local crews were kept waiting at the entrance to South Coast District Hospital at one point on Monday, October 28. Photo: Supplied.
Four local crews were kept waiting at the entrance to South Coast District Hospital at one point on Monday, October 28. Photo: Supplied.

Mid-afternoon on Monday, October 28, four local ambulance crews were ramped at South Coast District Hospital (SCDH), according to the Ambulance Employees Association (AEA).

AEA industrial officer Leah Watkins said the Victor Harbor emergency crew, two Victor Harbor transfer crews, and a Goolwa volunteer crew were all stuck at the entrance with individual patients.

"They were all delayed handing over their patients, the longest wait by nearly an hour," she said.

"The delay occurred as South Coast District Hospital became inundated with patients, both brought in by SA Ambulance Service and walk-ups, so the A&E department became over capacity."

While the four vehicles were waiting, SA Ambulance (SAAS) received a call out to a priority two emergency at Goolwa.

To cover the incident, SAAS had to use a single responder from Goolwa and a single volunteer from Yankalilla.

"All involved in this felt a high degree of frustration and stress due to the fact that they could not off load their patients or respond to emergency jobs," Ms Watkins said.

"This situation developed when there were no other resources available, so crew members stuck at hospitals couldn't even form a 'scratch crew' to respond as there were no stretchers available to respond to jobs."

She said with even the spare ambulance being utilised at the time, there were no resources available to respond to emergencies from past Yankallilla through to past Goolwa.

"Metro resources could not support them as they were also fully utilised and/or being ramped," she said.

She said ramping at SCDH was becoming more frequent due to various issues including population expansion and age demographic, and the impact of ramping at metro hospitals.

"This issue is further complicated by the vast distances within the area to transport and offer clinical support to volunteers," she said.

It comes after the Fleurieu Peninsula was left without a single ambulance available at one point in time on Wednesday, October 16.

State health minister Stephen Wade said the government "doesn't accept ramping" and was "making every effort" to fix the issue.

Mr Wade announced he and the local state government members David Basham, Dan Cregan and Josh Teague have pushed federal health minister Greg Hunt for a previously-announced $8.4 million upgrade to the South Coast District Hospital to be moved forward from the 2022-23 financial year to 2021-22.

He has also asked for Mount Barker District Soldiers' Memorial Hospital's $8.6 million upgrade to be moved from 2021-22 to 2020-21.

"Improved services at these hospitals has seen significant growth in presentations and as the area's population continues to increase so will presentations," Mr Wade said.

"The people of Mount Barker and the south coast deserve the best health care and the Marshall and Morrison governments are determined to give them just that."

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