Hospital bypass will no longer be used in Victoria from Wednesday 7 October 2015.
Currently, metropolitan hospitals can request for ambulances to bypass them and take non-urgent patients to another hospital emergency department during times of peak demand.
The system was first introduced 20 years ago, however it has long been recognised that it is not the best way to manage the flow of patients in emergency departments. This change will bring Victoria in to line with all other Australian States and Territories who have all removed hospital bypass systems.
Removing the hospital bypass system is in line with the recommendations of the Ambulance Performance and Policy Committee’s Interim Report, as it can contribute to ramping, takes ambulances outside of their area, and creates ‘ripple effects’ where hospital emergency departments go on bypass one after the other.
Currently, 18 hospitals use the bypass system to varying degrees. However, from Wednesday 7 October, all Victorian metropolitan public hospitals will be required to accept all patients arriving by ambulance. Bypass will only be able to be requested in exceptional circumstances, such as power failure.
Extensive work has been undertaken with health services and Ambulance Victoria in recent months to help them prepare for this change. Hospitals have already implemented initiatives to improve patient flow, hospital capacity and emergency department access for patients, and a number have already reduced their use of bypass in preparation for the change.
Ambulance Victoria is also undertaking a number of strategies to support this change, including improving the information available to paramedics and emergency department staff regarding impending ambulance arrivals and hospital workload. In particular, Ambulance Victoria’s Hospital Information Coordinator will be extended to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to improve the distribution of ambulances across the system.
The Labor Government will provide $800,000 across the affected health services and Ambulance Victoria to support them as they adjust to this change. This funding could be used for initiatives such as additional nursing staffing for peak periods, additional medical consultant hours including on weekends, or increased hours for emergency department care co-ordination to assist in discharging patients.
The Andrews Labor Government is committed to ensuring Victorians can get the care they need, when they need it. Removing hospital bypass will ensure ambulance patients are transported to the nearest hospital that can best meet their clinical needs, sooner.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy
“We are putting patients first. This change will improve patient safety and care by ensuring all metropolitan public hospitals are open to receive incoming ambulances.”
“We are focussed on ensuring our hospitals and ambulance service work better together to ensure patients are taken to the right hospital, at the right time.”
“Our hospitals are improving their systems so they can better manage high patient demand, and by removing bypass, we will free up ambulances to respond more quickly to patients in the community.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020