Queensland emergency rooms are facing their toughest COVID-19 wave to date as sickness and worker fatigue aggravate staff shortages, a leading doctor says.
Emergency medicine has become less attractive since the beginning of the pandemic two years ago, AMA Queensland Ramping Roundtable chair, Kim Hansen told ABC radio Brisbane on Monday.
“Emergency departments are really staffed mostly by junior doctors with some senior doctors supervising them, and the junior doctors in particular are choosing other paths,” she said.
“My colleagues are feeling the stress and some of them are getting burnt out, which is just so sad to see.”
Between six and seven per cent of Queensland health workers are currently on sick leave, which is about double the usual average, Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said.
“When you look at the beds being taken up with COVID and the reduced staffing, you get an idea of the pressure being faced across our hospital systems,” she said on Monday.
A total of 967 beds are being used for patients who have either COVID-19 or influenza.
Close to 2480 health staff are off sick with COVID-19.
Many waiting rooms, emergency beds and wards are at capacity and ambulance ramping is an ongoing issue, Dr Hansen said.
“I think this is the toughest (wave) yet. The numbers are pretty huge and we’ve got influenza on top of that,” she said.
Queensland’s current COVID-19 wave is expected to peak in coming weeks, and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has encouraged residents to wear masks when indoors in public.
“The best way to slow this wave down is to wear masks,” she said on Saturday.
“This is to help our hospitals, our doctors, our nurses. It’s to help our workforce.”
Students and teachers are also being encouraged to wear masks at school where social distancing isn’t possible.
Queensland recorded another 6682 COVID-19 cases on Monday.
A total of 914 COVID-19 patients are currently in hospital, 18 of whom are in ICU.
The state has 49,359 active cases.