But services go on: Health boss
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.