PREMIER Gladys Berejiklian has commended Shoalhaven District Hospital head of surgery, Professor Martin Jones for talking out about concerns over surgery cancellations and other issues affecting the hospital, including chronic bed shortages.
“I commend the expert clinicians in this area for speaking up,” the premier said.
“That’s their job.”
Mrs Berejiklian was answering a question on health as the state government announced a $960 million upgrade of the Princes Highway South of Nowra.
Professor Jones last week described Shoalhaven Hospital as “broken” saying it was under “terminal stress”.
“This is why we are investing more than $430 million in Shoalhaven Hospital,” Mrs Berejiklian said.
“The members for South Coast and Kiama and I have visited that hospital on a number of occasions,” she said.
“We have made major upgrades there. The money will make that major change.
I commend the expert clinicians in this area for speaking up. That’s their job.NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian
“We know when people need help, when they need medical attention they will get it.
“We don’t want people to wait any longer for elective surgery, obviously if it’s something urgent you have it straight away.
“We want to see elective surgery managed as well.”
She said the $434 million investment in Shoalhaven Hospital would “make a huge difference”.
“It will take pressure off the hospital and allow it to deal with those cases and free up more time for elective surgery,” she said.
In a letter to the South Coast Register, Professor Jones said elective surgery had been cancelled three days out of the last five, with day only patients allowed to be treated in theatre.
He said a decision of the many orthopaedic surgeons at Wollongong hospital to not look after fracture and trauma patients from the Shoalhaven would pose even more impact on the already stretched resources at Nowra.
Professor Jones said the opening of six extra over census beds and the removal of six beds from the theatre recovery area, had done nothing to alleviate the bed shortage. In fact it had led to a shortage of recovery beds for operating theatres, meaning patients were being woken up in theatre instead of the specialised recovery area.
He pointed to increased numbers at the South Coast Correctional Centre, the failure of both local naval bases no longer having hospitals and a “tsunami of economic refugees heading from Sydney and Wollongong” had put the hospital system “under terminal stress”.
Professor Jones acknowledged the administration’s move to provide one more junior doctor and the use of two senior orthopaedic surgeons on a roster with the two local surgeons on call each weekend but said the offer did not come with any extra theatre time, nurses, anaesthetists, wards staff, beds or radiographers.
ISLHD Executive Director Clinical Operations Margaret Martin said there was no impediment to access to Wollongong Hospital.
“The fact is, Wollongong is experiencing its own increase in demand for orthopaedic surgery so to prevent unnecessary transfers, travel and wait times for Shoalhaven patients and families, additional orthopaedic resources have been deployed to the Shoalhaven,” she said.
“They provide additional local capacity after-hours, but importantly, a senior specialist delivers early clinical input and care for Shoalhaven locals who may or may not require surgery.
“The earlier this happens, the sooner patients can commence their recovery and often without the need to travel to Wollongong unnecessarily, especially if surgery is not required.”