NSW govt ‘addressing’ hospital concerns


Health bureaucrats say doctors’ concerns about the running of Sydney’s new $600 million hospital are being addressed.

The public-private Northern Beaches Hospital has come under scrutiny since its opening three weeks ago after staff issues and supply shortages became public.

Staff working up to 110 hours a week, junior doctors being responsible for up to 60 patients, a lack of supervision and a lack of hand hygiene pumps were among the issues raised by the Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation last week on behalf of its members, AAP understands.

Midwives and doctors have also complained they were given an inadequate orientation before the 488-bed hospital opened.

Hospital management has begun addressing concerns including assigning two doctors to move between wards to improve staff-to-patient ratios in busy areas.

However, Fairfax Media reported on Tuesday anaesthetists were threatening to refuse elective surgery patients unless staff shortages, supply shortages and systematic problems were fixed.

The health department said it met with hospital operator Healthscope and the Australian Medical Association on Tuesday to “ensure all necessary steps are taken to respond to clinicians’ concerns”.

“Patient care is front and centre for NSW Health and we are ensuring that clinicians’ concerns are addressed,” a Northern Sydney Local Health District spokeswoman said in a statement.

“Healthscope has assured NSW Health that they are taking immediate action to address all issues.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters on Monday although there had been some “teething problems,” the hospital has already completed more than 600 surgeries.

Meanwhile, supporters of the lobby group Save Mona Vale Hospital will rally outside the NSW parliament on Wednesday after acute services were transferred to the new hospital 12km away.

Chairman Parry Thomas says population growth meant the government would inevitably need to reopen pediatrics, emergency and other acute services at the beachside hospital.

The new hospital has a 50-bed public emergency department, about 243 public beds and 195 private beds.

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