ONGOING allegations of faulty air conditioning and problems with staff morale at Shoalhaven Hospital are to be investigated by Kiama MP Gareth Ward.
Mr Ward will today table a notice of motion in NSW parliament demanding the health department resolve problems with air conditioning in the operating theatres.
His announcement came on the same day that the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) admitted that there were problems with the air conditioning.
The problem was first reported in January, but has been consistently denied by the ISLHD.
Mr Ward has also said he was willing to investigate claims of alleged workplace bullying at the hospital.
Mr Ward said he is looking into reports of alleged bullying at the hospital and said if he finds evidence he will call for an investigation.
“Bullying in any part of the public service is unacceptable and anyone subjected to bullying in our health system can contact me and be assured of confidentiality and anonymity,” he said.
Mr Ward’s motion noted the concerns of staff and patients at the hospital.
“First and foremost my job is to stand up for my community and I wanted the Illawarra Shoalhaven Health District to be in no doubt about my concern and will continue to take the matter up until it is resolved.
“I have spoken to the Health Minister and conveyed my concerns directly to her and I’m looking forward to a positive outcome.”
In a statement yesterday the ISLHD said that the system originally failed during the January heatwave, and is “not operating at optimal capacity.”
The statement said the breakdown and subsequent failures put certain parts of the storage area for theatres outside Australian standards and had forced some theatres to be closed and some procedures moved.
A spokesperson for the ISLHD said the problem was combining the air conditioning units in the old and new theatres.
“The air conditioning system in the theatre complex is not operating at optimal capacity,” the spokesperson said.
“Combining the air conditioning units of the old theatres with the system supplying the new has failed some of the environmental challenges confronting the region through summer.
“External experts are currently working to determine the best way forward and given the integrated nature of the unit, this is not a simple process.
“Hospital management has kept staff informed about the status of the air conditioning system.”
Senior clinicians and management have denied claims of low morale at the hospital.
They said the failure of the system along with the threat of bushfire and damage to buildings on the hospital campus by the devastating tornado, certainly had tested all members of staff.
Head of Surgery, Professor Martin Jones, was quoted in the statement, saying, “The recent reports that suggest morale is low have caused upset to many staff.
“Their resolve to work through these problems has brought out the best in the surgical teams in the wards, emergency department and theatre.
“These reports diminish the efforts of those, who have worked so hard in recent months to strengthen the hospital community’s resolve to push through the many challenges that come with the provision of health care services,” the statement said.
Professor Jones, Dr Street and the hospital’s site manager/ director of nursing, Monica Taylor, praised the efforts of all staff in working through the challenging circumstances to ensure the delivery of quality services to the community was not disrupted.