Wednesday, July 29, 2009
July 26th 2009
HEAL spokesperson, Janet Mays, has expressed concern at reports that 155 jobs will be cut at Nepean hospital.
“The cuts announced to staff two weeks ago, mean that further strain will be placed on a system that is already at breaking point” said Ms Mays.
“Sydney West Area Health Service has said that the job cuts will not include front line staff, but any job cuts will clearly have an impact on service delivery. If administrative and support staff are the targets of these job cuts, who will do their work”?
“You can’t keep gutting a system and expect first rate health outcomes. I feel for the staff at Nepean hospital, one of the busiest hospitals in the state, who are constantly expected to do more with less” she added.
“For Mountains residents who are routinely shipped to Nepean hospital for basic, primary health care services, job cuts at Nepean hospital will mean longer wait times, quicker stays and less satisfactory outcomes. This is just another reason why BMDAMH must be allowed to reinstate the services that it has surrendered to Nepean hospital in recent years. Services such as general surgery and orthopaedics”.
“These job cuts, coupled with a staffing freeze, job vacancies and a voluntary redundancy program reek of the corporate bean counters at work. When will sanity prevail and the clinicians be put back in charge of our public hospitals”? said Ms Mays.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
In July 2007, I was ambulanced for a 2nd time to Nepean Hospital with suspected appendicitis. After a 6 hour wait at Nepean hospital, I was finally attended to and 27 hours after my ordeal began at Katoomba hospital, I was finally operated on. My post operative care was poor, due to inadequate staffing levels and a post operative infection topped off a frightening and totally unsatisfactory experience.
I launched HEAL (Hospital Equity & Access Lobby) following my hospital experience and quickly learnt that my experience was not unique. I met many Mountains residents with similar stories and who like me, believed that our local hospital could provide the services for which we had each been sent to Nepean hospital.
We then started to question why Mountains residents are routinely shipped to Nepean hospital and beyond for basic, primary health care services that were once available at Katoomba hospital. Services such as general surgery, orthopaedics, gynaecology and urology. Where had the services gone to and why hadn’t the community been told of their departure?
Meetings with Sydney West Area Health Service management were generally frosty and our questions were met with either indignation or responses such as “we will get back to you”. We are still waiting for answers to many of our questions!
In the midst of all of this, the maternity service at Katoomba hospital began to again experience regular closures. Further, residents began ringing HEAL members with stories about the paediatrics unit being closed for regular periods.
We rallied and held public meetings and the maternity unit was again re-opened in July 2008. Although, recent stories of rushed trips to Nepean hospital and near births on the highway, clearly demonstrate that the service is far from stable and cannot be relied upon. The erratic nature of this service is a constant worry for expectant mums and dads.
Mountains residents are now part of the “spoke and hub” hospital model favoured by the NSW State Government. This model means that Blue Mountains residents (spoke) are required to be “fed” into Nepean hospital (hub) and beyond (Westmead) for basic, primary health care services. So the mystery is solved - this is where our services have gone to!
Sadly, the recent Federal budget supported this model by providing $96.4 million over five years, starting in 2008-09, to expand Nepean hospital’s infrastructure. In a media release announcing the Rudd Government funding for Nepean hospital, the Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, said “that an expanded Nepean Hospital will benefit people living in the outer Western Sydney areas of Penrith, Blacktown, the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury”.
So it has finally been said! The Blue Mountains is seen by the Federal Government and presumably its NSW State counterpart, as outer Western Sydney and we can travel for hospital services. Not good enough Mr Rudd and Mr Rees!
In June this year, HEAL launched a petition to ask the NSW State Government to
· Guarantee the future of BMDAMH and re-instate services that have been systematically downgraded or removed from the hospital such as general surgery;
· Guarantee the future of maternity and paediatric services at BMDAMH;
· Re-classify BMDAMH as a rural hospital.
We are seeking 10,000 signatures to send a very clear message to the State Government that Mountains residents will not tolerate the continued decline in the provision of local, primary basic health care services. Simply, Mountains residents deserve better!
Katoomba hospital is a cornerstone of our community; a major local employer and an essential service. We should not have to continually fight for its existence, but we will!
Most recently, 5 beds in the acute mental health unit at Katoomba hospital (opened in 2007) were permanently closed. The need for these beds hasn’t dissipated, just the service. And, for some in our community, this can truly mean the difference between life and death.
HEAL was formed to champion the case for the continuation of locally provided primary basic health care services in the Blue Mountains.
We believe that it is unjust that Mountains residents are not provided these services in their own geographic area; that our elderly population is disadvantaged by having to travel long distances for medical treatment and that Mountains residents are placed at an economic and social disadvantage by having to travel to Nepean hospital and beyond for hospital services.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
June 30th 2009
HEAL spokesperson, Janet Mays, has branded as outrageous a voluntary redundancy program available to all Sydney West Area Health Service staff.
“It is beyond belief that when we know there are job vacancies at BMDAMH and at Nepean hospital where Mountains residents are routinely shipped for services, that SWAHS could even contemplate a voluntary redundancy program” said Ms Mays.
“The community is constantly told that SWAHS is unable to attract staff to work at BMDAMH and here we have a program that is encouraging people to leave. This is absolutely insane and another example of appalling management practice from the SWAHS executive”.
The SWAHS voluntary redundancy program opened on June 29th and closes on July 17th 2009. Whilst the program stipulates that local management will be consulted to see if a person’s role is surplus to requirement before a voluntary redundancy is accepted, Ms Mays said that this sort of program absolutely sends the wrong message to the community. “If there are in fact staff that are surplus to requirements, re-training and redeployment should be the first options, not redundancies” she said.
“We need more doctors, nurses and health professionals, not fewer” said Ms Mays. “Anyone who has waited the obligatory 7 or 8 hours at Nepean hospital (for attention) will attest to that”.
“Sadly, this action appears to be more about budget balancing than providing enough people to adequately staff our hospitals. You wouldn’t blame any health professional for accepting a voluntary redundancy as they are already stretched to the limit. Clearly SWAHS management is focussed on the business of hospitals, not on providing the right resources to meet community needs”.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
The battle to both save and fully re-establish
With a State election 12-18 months away, it is imperative that Mountains residents send a clear message to both the Liberal and Labor parties that we require a Mountains hospital that provides basic, primary health care services to residents.
This includes a functioning accident & emergency department; general surgery; a maternity unit; a paediatrics unit; rehabilitation services; geriatrics and palliative care; a mental health unit and general medicine.
Each of the services listed above has or is in the process of being systematically downgraded. Most recently, 5 of the 15 beds in the mental health unit have closed. These beds have always been full and are desperately needed in our community.