The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: During my Address in Reply last year I spoke about the current government's approach to health services, and how different it was from that of the previousgovernment. Yesterday in this place the minister mentioned a stark difference in views on ambulance ramping. Will the minister update the council on initiatives to address hospital demand?
The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (15:33): I thank the honourable member for his question. The South Australian public health system is under pressure. Our hospitals are not working as they need to, and in consequence we are experiencing ramping and overcrowded emergency departments. The Marshall government considers this is unacceptable; ramping is completely unacceptable.
It is not part of the normal running of a world-class health system. It is a symptom of a system deformed by Labor's Transforming Health experiment, and broken by 16 years of Labor mismanagement. As the honourable member points out, the Labor Party did not deal with ramping. One former Labor health minister brushed off ramping, saying that it was fundamentally a fight between ambulance and emergency department staff, and said that ambulances in photos showing ramping were often empty.
Labor won't acknowledge the demolition job they did on South Australia's public health system. Yesterday, Mr Phil Palmer from the Ambulance Employees Association said:
There's been a number of factors that have impacted on ambulances. Transforming Health is most certainly one of them.
The quote continues:
I stood on the steps of the Repat protesting the closure of that because I could see that would contribute to reducing capacity and therefore increase the chance of ramping.
They broke their promise. The Labor Party promised they would never, ever close the Repat, but that is what they did, and when they closed it in November 2017 they cut more than 100 beds from the system.
The Marshall Liberal government does not try to pretend that ramping is not happening. We are working to make it a thing of the past, as dead as Labor's Transforming Health. In this regard, an initiative I announced on the weekend to address flow in our hospitals is the introduction of Criteria Led Discharge. One of the major reasons for the stress our hospitals are under is a lack of capacity to discharge patients who are ready to leave but who are held in hospital by paperwork. To help address this, Criteria Led Discharges bring a wider range of health professionals—nurses and other health professionals—into the discharge process to enable better discharging processes while ensuring patient safety remains paramount.
Criteria Led Discharge is a way of making the patient journey from admission to discharge, helping to provide better patient outcomes and the more efficient working of our hospitals. Patients who stay in hospital longer than they need to are at an increased risk of poorer health outcomes such as infections. They are also in beds that would otherwise be free for incoming patients, helping to relieve pressure on our emergency departments.
Labor talked about Criteria Led Discharge a lot, but Labor was only good for talking: they couldn't deliver in all their 16 years. It seems the only action they could deliver was downgrades to hospitals. The Marshall Liberal government, still less than one year old, has delivered on this important initiative.