Sunday, December 21, 2008


Centre to set emergency care guidelines

Louise Hall, Health Reporter, Sun Herald

December 21, 2008

PATIENTS who go to emergency departments anywhere in NSW should be treated with the same level of care and the most up-to-date methods, says Health Minister John Della Bosca, who will launch Australia's first Emergency Care Institute today.

The $700,000 institute will develop standard guidelines for emergency doctors and nurses and encourage them to share information and innovations.

But some senior clinicians who had been charged with advising the Government on how to fix the problems plaguing emergency departments - chronic overcrowding, staff shortages and lack of trainees - believe the institute will be a "white elephant".

Tony Joseph, chairman of the NSW faculty of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, quit the Ministerial Taskforce on Emergency Care in disgust last month. Dr Joseph said the institute would not achieve anything unless the number of emergency specialists in NSW was increased by at least 150.

There were 399 trainee specialists at various stages of the seven-year course in NSW. Yet high levels of burnout, lack of supervision and comparatively low salaries meant only about 20 trainees graduated each year.