You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Record influenza levels at WA hospitals

AAP logoAAP 30/08/2016 Rebecca Gredley

Emergency departments in West Australia are under pressure from an increase in influenza-like illnesses and a lack of Commonwealth-funded aged care beds, the state's chief medical officer says.

August is usually the busiest time for hospital emergency departments, with 97 extra daily attendances at Perth sites, compared to those in July.

WA Health said there were already 275 patients in emergency departments across the metropolitan area just before 9am on Tuesday.

Chief medical officer Gary Geelhoed said hospitals were feeling the demand, with levels of influenza at their highest since 2012.

"In the past week alone, there has been a 10 per cent increase in the number of patients presenting with flu-like illness compared to the same week last year," he said.

Professor Geelhoed says the main virus strain this year is known to disproportionately affect older people, but WA has the lowest number of aged care beds per population in Australia.

"There are many elderly people in our hospitals waiting for beds to become available in residential care," he said.

Due to the unprecedented demand, ambulance ramping time has increased, with 160 hours recorded across Perth's tertiary hospitals on Monday.

Professor Geelhoed said anyone who did not require emergency care should consider other health care options such as a GP or Health Direct Australia.

Opposition health spokesman Roger Cook said emergency departments were starved of resources to meet the demands of this flu season and he did not believe the government had answers to fix the problems.

"This is the same government that banned ramping just 12 months ago and yet we now see record ramping levels," he told reporters.

"Our hospitals are starved of the resources they need to actually address and provide those patients in ED with the care they need."

Professor Geelhoed said the government would attempt to open another five aged care beds this week and were negotiating with the commonwealth to open 75 in the near future.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon