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Nurses and midwives demand more detail

ANMF
Photo: ANMF SA's Elizabeth Dabars
South Australian nurses and midwives are being left in limbo with the state government failing to release detail surrounding its proposed health reforms.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) South Australian branch has called on the government to release information about its plans to improve the state’s emergency health care system.

The government proposes closing the Repatriation General Hospital and Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre, with their rehabilitation services to be shifted to other hospitals.

ANMF SA branch secretary Adj Assoc Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM said while health reforms are needed, the government has failed to outline essential information in its Transforming Health Consultation Paper.

“We understand that meetings of staff have started to be held at a number of sites, including the Noarlunga and the Repatriation General Hospital, and our understanding is that the nursing staff are completely outraged by what’s been presented to them,” she said.

“There is no ability by the bureaucrats attending those meetings to answer their questions, there’s no detail, there’s no understanding of what will happen to the patients and the staff, and there are some extremely serious questions to be answered.”

Adj Assoc Professor Dabars said nurses and midwives have been left to question whether the changes will affect patient care, the provision of care, staff employment and impact on members’ entitlements.

“All of these issues cannot actually be addressed at the moment and so as a consequence we do not have, and we believe that the community cannot have, any confidence in this plan and we’re calling on the government to release further information and provide answers to these important questions.”

The blueprint proposes transforming The Royal Adelaide, Flinders and Lyell McEwin hospitals into ‘super sites’ for major emergencies with 24/7 senior medical staff, and recommends scaling down emergency services at the Queen Elizabeth and Modbury hospitals.

Noarlunga Hospital has been earmarked to become the state’s centre for single day elective surgery and an expert palliative care site, while The Queen Elizabeth hospital will move to focus on multi-day elective surgery.

The plan also proposes establishing a walk-in emergency clinic at Noarlunga Hospital, on the site of the GP Plus Super Clinic, and recommends setting up a new $15 million post-traumatic stress centre to replace the outdated Ward 17 at the Repatriation General Hospital.

The government will also add more than 70 extra paramedics and support staff alongside 12 new ambulances and build two new hub ambulance stations as part of a $15 million investment in expanding the state’s ambulance fleet.

Health Minister Jack Snelling said the proposal will ensure more patients are seen on time, and are treated and transferred into hospital beds faster through the state’s emergency departments.

Adj Assoc Professor Dabars said while positive change is needed, the government needs to deliver the rationale and detail behind its plan.

“The paper fails to present a rationale for change basically at any level. There’s no economic analysis, there’s no patient care analysis, there’s no analysis on efficiency or effectiveness,” she said.

“There’s not even a single mention that the reform paper was prompted by federal and state budgetary issues.

“There’s no analysis on whether the changes would in fact save the money that they’ve said the system needs to save in order to create a sustainable health system.

“And if it does fall short, does that mean this is just the start of a series of cuts that we’re expecting into the future? It’s simply not clear.”

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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords