But ser­vices go on: Health boss

Sunday Mail - - NEWS NEWS - BRAD CROUCH

CAN­CER ser­vices wind down at the Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal from to­day, with the for­mer 20-bed can­cer ward clos­ing in prepa­ra­tion for the ar­rival of a Pain Man­age­ment Unit.

This unit was pre­vi­ously based at the Royal Ade­laide Hos­pi­tal, but there was no room for it at the new $2.3 bil­lion build­ing so it has been shifted to QEH.

Can­cer ser­vices are be­ing re­lo­cated to the RAH, al­though some beds will re­main fol­low­ing a State Gov­ern­ment back­flip on Trans­form­ing Health af­ter com­mu­nity protests.

Of­fi­cials de­clined to re­spond to Sun­day Mail re­quests for spe­cific can­cer bed num­bers at QEH.

In­stead, Jenny Richter, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Cen­tral Ade­laide Lo­cal Health Net­work, which cov­ers both hos­pi­tals, re­leased a state­ment say­ing: “The moves this week­end will not change bed num­bers within the net­work and can­cer ser­vices and beds will con­tinue to be avail­able at QEH.”

Staff have been told the Pain Man­age­ment Unit will com­mence op­er­a­tion at QEH on Jan­uary 8. It will move into an area now used by the 23hour sur­gi­cal unit, which is shift­ing to the can­cer ward.

In Septem­ber, QEH Hae­ma­tol­ogy and On­col­ogy Unit head Pro­fes­sor Ti­mothy Price gave ev­i­dence to a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee that staff were told just days ear­lier that the hae­ma­tol­ogy/on­col­ogy ward would be “dis­man­tled” to five beds – down from 20 be­fore Trans­form­ing Health.

“There is a dis­cus­sion about whether those five beds should ex­ist be­yond De­cem­ber or Jan­uary,” Prof Price told the com­mit­tee. He and other se­nior QEH staff em­pha­sised that down­grades had come de­spite as­sur­ances of con­sul­ta­tion.

Res­pi­ra­tory Medicine Unit prin­ci­pal sci­en­tist Dr Mark Juri­se­vic told the same hear­ing staff only found out the pur­pose-built, 22-bed res­pi­ra­tory medicine ward was clos­ing by read­ing it in the Messenger news­pa­pers. “We will no longer have a res­pi­ra­tory ward but will have four beds in a gen­eral ward. We think it is quite dan­ger­ous for pa­tients,” he told the com­mit­tee.

Di­rec­tor of car­di­ol­ogy Pro­fes­sor John Horowitz told the hear­ing he re­jected gov­ern­ment as­sur­ances that car­diac ser­vices at QEH were be­ing re­stored, say­ing staff had been cut by 40 per cent and the unit was op­er­at­ing on un­sus­tain­able over­time.

“We can’t run a skele­tal car­diac ser­vice and pro­duce the re­sults we should if they play merry hell with our struc­ture,” he said. “The place has been ran­sacked and we need to re­verse that process.”

He de­scribed Trans­form­ing Health as a “good slo­gan” to mask a cap on health spend­ing forced by cost blowouts in the $2.3 bil­lion RAH.

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