On Saturday I wrote about how the people of Wandin Valley took pride in their local hospital. I referred to headline-grabbing negativity that sees our hardworking doctors and nurses turned into political fodder.
In political campaigns, facts can become weapons and the truth can be the first casualty. It is important that I take the opportunity to correct the record and stick up for our hospitals. There have been two recent examples of baseless negativity that I would like to correct.
Firstly, stage one of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children opens next month. There will be more maternity beds in the new hospital.
Overall the number of beds between today and the completion of phase two of the hospital will increase from 116 inpatient beds, plus 25 outpatient spaces to 148 inpatient beds, plus 42 outpatient spaces.
The opening of stage one will increase maternity capacity by one bed. Stage two will take the total additional maternity beds to four.
Funding in this year’s budget will also cater for 200 births through a new community midwifery program on the northside, where demand from young families needs to be met. This will be delivered through Calvary public hospital.
Secondly, it should be noted that the proportion of patients choosing to leave the Emergency Department without being seen is falling and has been for some time. This is at a time when demand for the ED is increasing.
It currently sits at nine percent for the last year, compared with 12 percent two years ago. In the same period presentations to the ED have been increasing by 6 percent a year.
While some might argue patients who are able leave the ED without being treated are not the most acute emergencies, we are nonetheless taking steps to further reduce this number and to increase capacity in the ED.
Significant work is going into continuing to improve the ED’s capacity to see more people through physical expansion and through the $12m injection for more doctors and nurses. Extra beds in the hospital are also coming online and this will support the ED staff in the job that they do.