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Patient access to care

Directive number: QH-HSD-025:2015

Effective date: 01 October 2021

Review date: 01 October 2024

Supersedes: Version 3.0

On this page:


This Health Service Directive directs Hospital and Health Services to be consistent in their approach to managing patient access and flow, and to facilitate timely access into and through all Queensland public hospitals.


This directive applies to all Hospital and Health Services (HHSs).


  • As per the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011, the best interests of users of public sector health services should be the main consideration in all decisions and actions.
  • Access—optimise patient flow and access across the patient journey from pre- hospital arrival, through to admission and discharge.
  • Integration—whole of system approach to equitable patient flow and access.
  • Safety—optimise patient safety, quality of clinical care and outcomes.
  • Effectiveness—achieve effective outcomes with efficient use of resources.
  • Collaboration—support collaboration and interface between HHSs the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS), and other partners in health service delivery.


HHSs will achieve the following outcomes:

  • Patients who access public health services, who present for treatment, admission or inter-hospital transfer will receive timely and optimal care based on their presenting condition.

Mandatory requirements

HHSs will ensure the following:

  • That all patients have access to emergency care.
  • Patients are seen and treated in a timely manner according to their clinical urgency This applies to presentations to Emergency Departments, bookings for elective surgery and other elective procedures, outpatient and oral health appointments as well as other clinical assessments.
  • Where care is transferred, for example between QAS and an Emergency Department, a safe, effective, and timely clinical handover between all parties occurs as per National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards.
  • HHSs will comply with the following Protocols:
    • Protocol for Timely Transfer of Care in Emergency Departments
    • Protocol for Management of Inter-Hospital Transfers
    • Protocol for Managing Capacity of Queensland Public Hospitals
  • Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011

Supporting documents

Business area contact

Healthcare Improvement Unit, Clinical Excellence Queensland


This Health Service Directive will be reviewed at least every three years.

Date of last review: 16/12/2019

Supersedes: Version 3.0

Approval and implementation

Directive Custodian: Deputy Director-General, Clinical Excellence Queensland

Approval by Chief Executive: Director-General Queensland Health

Approval date: 23 September 2021

Effective from: 01 October 2021

Issued under section 47 of the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011

Version control

VersionDate Prepared byComments
1.0 18/12/2012 Clinical Access & Redesign Unit Patient Access and Flow Health Service Directive Developed.
2.0 06/08/2015 Healthcare Improvement Unit Patient Centred Emergency Care Health Service Directive updated.
3.0 16/12/2019 Healthcare Improvement Unit Updates approved through the Patient Access Advisory Committee.
4.0 23/09/2021 Healthcare Improvement Unit Updates approved by the Director-General.
Last updated: 1 October 2021