Two nights ago SBS broadcast the first of a four-part series looking at world leading emergency departments. The premier episode, filmed in April 2011, focused on Melbourne’s Alfred hospital, internationally renown for its trauma care – they treat 22,000 trauma presentations each year. It also happens to be my hospital, though I haven’t worked on the trauma unit, emergency department or intensive care for over two decades.*

The series host, UK-based ICU and Anaesthetic Consultant Dr Kevin Fong, follows the initial pathway of several patients: treatment by flight paramedics from roadside to ED, the initiation of in-hospital treatment, radiology, preliminary surgery, and transfer to ICU.

If you’re reading this on or before January 22nd you can watch the episode here. Then ask: how will public health cuts affect future patients?

The last seven minutes shows four simultaneous traumas – three patients from a head-on car accident, and a machinery-based emergency – dealt with by twenty-nine staff. All those people are integral to the outcome – as Dr Fong says:

that’s a key part of the picture, is the resource here is designed to be like this, so that when a car comes in with three patients, and someone falls into a bit of machinery over there, you can deal with it. In just fifteen minutes all the patients are stable enough to go on to the next stage…

Without those almost thirty professionals, “Australia’s elite trauma system [that] saves so many lives” wouldn’t. And if one of those lives is yours, or someone you love, those budget cuts go straight from prudent and necessary to indefensible.

For those of us who work in hospitals, every patient is as important as your family – and these cuts are going to cost lives.

*As required in the Alfred’s social media policy, let me make clear that all opinions are my own and (unless clearly identified otherwise) neither this post nor any opinion on this blog or my Twitter account are endorsed by nor reflect any official position of Alfred Health.