How does ambulance service utilisation impact demand for Emergency Departments in Queensland, Australia?

Toloo, Sam, Tippett, Vivienne, FitzGerald, Gerard, Chu, Kevin, Eeles, David, Miller, Anne, Ting, Joseph, & Ward, David (2009) How does ambulance service utilisation impact demand for Emergency Departments in Queensland, Australia? In Australian Council of Ambulance Professionals (ACAP) 2009 Conference, 15-17 October 2009, Auckland, New Zealand.

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There are indications that pre-hospital emergency care and management of patients can help reduce the demand for hospital emergency departments (EDs). Ambulance services play a significant role at this stage of care. In 2003, the Queensland Government introduced a Community Ambulance Cover (CAC) levy in return for a free ambulance service at the point of access to all Queenslanders. This may have led to the impression in consumers of an entitlement to free ambulance services under any circumstances regardless of the urgency of the matter which may have in turn contributed to the crowding of EDs in Queensland.


This paper aims to answer the following questions:

  • How many patients arrive at hospital EDs by ambulance in Queensland, compared to other modes of arrival?

  • How has this changed over time, particularly after the CAC introduction in 2003? What percentage of ambulance arrivals are urgent ED patients?

  • Has the perceived free ambulance services created extra demand for EDs in Queensland, compared with other Australian jurisdictions that charge patients for ambulance services?


We will secondary analyse the data from sources such as Queensland Ambulance Services, Department of Health and Australian Bureau of Statistics to answer the research questions.

Findings and Conclusions

Queensland has the highest utilization rate of ambulance services (about 18% in 2007-08) and the highest annual growth rate in demand for these services (7.7% on average since 2000-01), well above the population growth. On the other hand, the proportion of ED patients arriving by ambulance in Queensland has increased by about 4% annually. However, when compared with other states and territories with charge at the point of access, it seems that the growth in demand for EDs cannot be explained solely or mainly by CAC or ambulance utilisation in Queensland.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 29408
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: Conference Poster Abstract
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Prehospital emergency services, Hospital emergency departments, Queensland Ambulance, Demand, Health services utilisation, Community Ambulance Cover (CAC), Queensland, Australia
ISSN: 1447-4999
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Deposited On: 22 Dec 2009 04:16
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2015 04:24

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