The peak body for training emergency doctors has called on the federal health minister to intervene in the practice of "ramping" at hospitals across the country.
Ambulances being unable to transfer patients into hospitals due to packed wards is tantamount to torture in some cases, says Australasian College for Emergency Medicine president Simon Judkins.
He said ramping due to packed emergency ward is plaguing hospitals across Australia.
Dr Judkins said one mental health patient in Queensland was recently forced to spend "three days on a chair" in a hospital before he could be admitted into the correct ward.
He said ramping could be "torture" for some patients.
"If you bring someone to an emergency ward because they're psychologically vulnerable and then you provide them with some psychological first aid, medication and refer them to patient admission and they're sitting on a chair in a hallway three days later -- that should be unacceptable to everybody," Dr Judkins said.
"I think anyone put in that situation would feel unsafe, unsupported and a lot worse off than when they first came in.
"We're actually making them worse by putting them through that experience."
He said federal health minister Greg Hunt should step in and address the issue, and so should state ministers.
"I would love to see the federal health minister get involved in this conversation and strongly advocate that we shouldn't have any patients spending 24 hours in an emergency department," Dr Judkins said on a tour of state hospitals.
"Drive that ethos through to the relevant jurisdictional health ministers."
Queensland opposition health spokeswoman Ros Bates said Dr Judkins was the second senior doctor to speak out on the issue in as many months.