The Sunday Mail (Queensland)



LESS than a year af­ter it opened, the $1.5 bil­lion Lady Ci­lento Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal re­mains in cri­sis, with staff com­plain­ing of a lack of beds for crit­i­cally ill chil­dren.

Clin­i­cians are com­pil­ing a let­ter of com­plaint to Health Min­is­ter Cameron Dick, which cites fail­ings such as surg­eries be­ing rou­tinely can­celled.

One doc­tor told The Sun­day Mail chil­dren’s lives were be­ing put at risk. Pa­tients have even been ad­vised they would be bet­ter off go­ing to a pri­vate hos­pi­tal.

A fam­ily com­plained this week of wait­ing 18 hours in emer­gency for treat­ment while doc­tors con­tem­plated air­lift­ing their 13-year-old child to Toowoomba.

A Sun­day Mail in­ves­ti­ga­tion also learned un­qual­i­fied nurses were car­ing for ba­bies in the in­ten­sive care unit.

Up to 15 elec­tive surgery lists were can­celled with one clin­i­cian warn­ing: “This is clin­i­cally un­safe.”

A sur­geon de­scribed the op­er­at­ing the­atres as “chaotic” and “dys­func­tional”.

“The hos­pi­tal was built with too few beds and is full ev­ery day,” one doc­tor said.

“Semi-ur­gent cases now have to wait un­til mid-Septem­ber for a bed.”

Staff were “dispir­ited” and had no con­fi­dence that the ex­ec­u­tives who cre­ated the prob­lems could lead the hos­pi­tal through them. Many staff were leav­ing. “Be­cause of staff short­ages and loss of ex­pe­ri­enced staff, there are stu­dent nurses work­ing in the Pae­di­atric In­ten­sive Care Unit,” a doc­tor said. “This is un­prece­dented.”

He said the ju­nior nurses were do­ing their best but re­mained in­ex­pe­ri­enced.

While an in­de­pen­dent re­view pointed to fail­ings on the part of the ex­ec­u­tive, the re­port failed to pro­vide a plan for the fu­ture.

“The hos­pi­tal re­mains pro­foundly dys­func­tional. Staff have no in­ter­est in a po­lit­i­cal blame game. Staff want so­lu­tions,” a doc­tor said.

Ru­ral health ad­vo­cate Justine Chris­ter­son said yesterday the hos­pi­tal con­tin­ues to can­cel surg­eries ef­fec­tively turn­ing chil­dren away.

“It’s an out­rage,” she said. She said the re­view cov­ered only the bun­gled open­ing and did not ad­dress wider, sys­temic prob­lems.

“In that sense the re­port was a white­wash,” she said.

Doc­tors be­lieve Lady Ci­lento is 60 beds short of the num­ber rec­om­mended un­der its own Health Ser­vices Plan.

Mr Dick would not com­ment. A Lady Ci­lento spokesman ad­mit­ted short­com­ings. He said there was a na­tional short­age of nurses trained for pae­di­atric in­ten­sive care.

And there was no bud­get for any more beds.

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Sun­day Mail has de­tailed the hos­pi­tal is­sue.
COV­ER­AGE: How The Sun­day Mail has de­tailed the hos­pi­tal is­sue.

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