The head of the Royal Hobart Hospital’s staff association has welcomed the Tasmanian Government’s commitment to more beds across the hospital, although the total figure still falls short of demand.
Tasmanian Health Minister Michael Ferguson used the first day of the new parliamentary session to announce an additional 31 beds, including nine “treatment recliners”.
Three beds and five recliners have been allocated to the emergency department, with the remainder being split between new Observation and Multipurpose Short Stay Units.
Chairman of the Royal Hobart Hospital Medical Staff Association Frank Nicklason was one of the group who claimed in April that underfunding of Tasmania’s health system was costing lives.
Dr Nicklason said the new beds would ease waiting room congestion.
“It does provide a little bit of relief, and it’s welcome, and particularly that the announcement has included the important statement that they’ll be working with clinicians who can best configure how to use these extra spaces,” he said.
“This is certainly a very necessary thing to be happening.”
Mr Nicklason said that though the additional beds were welcomed, it was impossible for the hospital to fully meet demand, especially for mental health patients.
“The real issue of course is that it’s difficult to create – actually impossible to create – the number of beds for acute admissions in the Royal Hobart Hospital,” he said.
“We just don’t have that flexible bed capacity.
“There are some areas on the below-ground floor – the same floor as the emergency department – that are being looked at to see if they can provide some sort of safety valve, but those areas are not suitable for people with mental health issues because they need a bit more space and privacy.”
The move comes after months of concern around patient flow at the hospital, with some patients waiting for days for a bed, and the emergency room reaching triple capacity.
Mr Nicklason said bed block was still hindering hospital operations.
“This morning for instance, we have 29 admitted patients waiting in the emergency department, and we know the consequences of people staying there, especially people with mental health problems and people who are older and frailer with complex medical problems,” he said.
The new beds have been promised by the end of October.
Thumbnail photo credit: ABC News
This story was written as part of my employment with the ABC. It was published on Wednesday 9th August and it can be found here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-09/rare-doctor-praise-for-tasmanian-government/8788770