The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

HORRIBLY INHOSPITAB­LE

- COURIERMAI­L.COM.AU DES HOUGHTON ASSISTANT EDITOR

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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