PRESSURE: Dr Dilip Kumar says people presenting to emergency with minor ailments puts an extra burden on staff.
PRESSURE: Dr Dilip Kumar says people presenting to emergency with minor ailments puts an extra burden on staff. Chris Lees

Minor injuries majorly clogging Gladstone's emergency ward

THE latest statistics from Queensland Health reveal that of the average 155,000 emergency department presentations across public hospitals each month, 32 per cent of ailments could be treated by a GP.

Gladstone Hospital's statistics are worse, with 36 per cent of presentations each month being for GP-type presentations.

Dr Dilip Kumar has been Emergency Department director at Gladstone Hospital since May last year.

He said people present to emergency with minor ailments like splinters and nosebleeds for several reasons.

"The feedback I get from patients is they are not able to get in to see the GP," he said.

"It's (a problem of) a lack of access to GP services in a timely manner.

"Even though (their conditions could be treated by a GP), they are painful conditions, people need an answer and they can't get in touch with a GP so they end up coming to (us)."

Dr Kumar said another reason people chose to go to emergency for minor ailments was because of convenience.

"When they come to ED they think they will get all the care - blood test, x-rays, consultations, everything done at the one go," he said.

"It's frustrating because we are not able to deliver the care to the needy people."

Dr Kumar said the extra workload increased pressure on staff.

"It affects the morale, it means staff are not able to provide the proper care to critically ill people," he said.

"It starts to affect retention (of staff)."

Dr Kumar said staff would always treat any patient who came into the emergency department seeking treatment. It was against doctors' principles to turn anyone away.

He said the problem of a lack of bulk billing GPs in regional areas needed to be rectified or the emergency department would continue to pick up the slack.

Queensland Health chief clinical information officer Professor Keith McNeil said Queenslanders should not be turning up at ED for prescription refills and contraception management.

"The emergency department is not the place for these things - by definition it's for emergencies," he said.