'FIFO doctors' could be the solution at Gladstone Hospital
March was the busiest month on record for Gladstone Hospital's Emergency Department with 2669 people presenting for treatment, 340 more than the same month in 2017.
Fortunately, some extra hands were on deck to help with six full-time junior doctors in the ED with another four due in the next two months.
ED Director Dr Dilip Kumar said while the hospital is planning its new $42 million Emergency Department, he's been hard at work building a team of six fully qualified emergency specialists.
"When I started as Clinical Director in April last year I was the only specialist in the department and my first mission was to provide specialist led care to the community 24-7," he said.
We initiated a recruitment campaign to target specialists and we needed to make the jobs attractive to people not wanting to move away from their homes in Brisbane
"We have overcome that challenge by using a fly-in, fly-out model where specialists come and do their shifts before returning to their homes in the city."
The ED now has an almost a full complement of specialist emergency physicians thanks to the flexible employment model.
"Staff feel more safe and comfortable coming to work because they know they're going to deliver good quality care to the patients," Dr Kumar said.
He added the hospital would soon have a fully staffed ED when the recent recruits join with qualified specialists.
"That ultimately means better quality care to the community," he said.
Dr Kumar's next goal is to gain accreditation from the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine to train the emergency specialists of the future.
"Because we've been able to get so many specialists, we're now able to provide good education for junior doctors which is important for recruitment and retention of staff and all this leads to better care.
"We will also soon have a full staff of principal house officers (junior doctors) once the process for their arrival is finalised."