Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare, Catherine King has followed through with her promise while in Nowra earlier this week to write to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard regarding Shoalhaven District Hospital.
Ms King and Gilmore Labor candidate Fiona Phillips met with staff at the hospital, who they say raised some “serious concerns” about the lack of investment at Shoalhaven Hospital and how it was “compromising patient care”.
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health chief executive Margot Mains disputed Labor’s claims the hospital was under resourced and under pressure, saying significant capital expenditure of more than $50 million had been made in the last four to five years.
Ms King said roundtable discussion with staff – including surgeons, nurses, paramedics and referring GPs - of Shoalhaven Hospital, raised concerns regarding shortages of both acute beds and staff.
“Their message to me was clear - they believe that these shortages are compromising the quality of patient care,” Ms King said in her letter to Mr Hazzard.
“Staff members were at pains to point out that it is their view that patients and staff alike are being put at risk by this situation.”
We certainly stand ready to work with you to assist in anyway necessary if we are lucky enough to form government at the next election.Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King's letter to NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard over Shoalhaven Hospital concerns.
She said it was clear that these people care deeply about their work and want to deliver the best care possible but it was clearly taking an emotional toll on them.
“Earlier this month, a number of elective surgeries were cancelled at the hospital because of what has been described as a bed block crisis, with head of surgery Martin Jones quoted as saying staff were forced to turn away 50 patients in a fortnight,” she said.
“These were people who had been scheduled for operations but were told - some of them for the second or third times - that the hospital could not accommodate them.
“As I’m sure you will agree, these circumstances are unacceptable.”
She sought advice from Mr Hazzard as to what plans the NSW Government has to improve circumstances at Shoalhaven Hospital and what federal Labor could do to assist?
“We certainly stand ready to work with you to assist in anyway necessary if we are lucky enough to form government at the next election,” the letter said.