Thursday, February 18, 2010

Yes Minister!

Feb 19th 2010

Carmel Tebbutt, the NSW Minister for Health, penned an article for yesterday's SMH attacking Tony Abbott's local Health Boards proposal.

I was pleased to see the article from the Minster for two reasons.

Firstly, it confirms the existence of the Minister. I had started to wonder because she has never responded to a single piece of correspondence from HEAL.

And secondly, she shares HEAL's view on healthcare! Perhaps she has been reading our correspondence after all.

For instance, the Minster states:

"We must focus on providing patients with the right care, in the most appropriate setting and in cost-effective ways. The system should be easy to navigate and equitable".

She goes on to say that:

"We must also better distribute health professionals so people can get treatment irrespective of where they live".

That's right Carmel - equitable healthcare, people receiving treatment irrespective of where they live and care in the most appropriate setting. That resonates for HEAL, so what exactly are you doing about BMDAMH? Why do service levels continue to decline and why do you fail to respond to taxpayers about this matter?

To read the full article go to our Media section. The Minister's article is entitled "Health fix needs a lot more than local boards".

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An all too familiar story..................

NSW Health apologises to Blue Mountains mothers
17 Feb, 2010 09:47 AM

NSW Health has apologised to expectant mothers for not notifying them in advance of temporary closures of Katoomba Hospital’s maternity unit and advised “occasional” closures will continue to occur due to a shortage of medical specialists.

Birthing services at the hospital were shut down on January 15, January 20 and for an extended period between January 26 and February 1 due to an anaesthetist and/or paediatrician shortage.

Sydney West Area Health Service (SWAHS) western cluster general manager Kevin Hedge told the Gazette on Monday “unfortunately, it would appear that not all women (due to give birth in mid to late January) received advanced notice of the disruptions to birthing services (at Katoomba Hospital)”.

“This is unacceptable and the hospital would like to sincerely apologise for any distress that this has caused.

“Hospital staff will ensure that communication is improved and that women are advised in advance in the event of any future disruptions to birthing services,” he said.

“In the event of any disruptions to birthing services, (Katoomba) Hospital staff will facilitate safe transfer to birthing services at Nepean or Lithgow hospitals, in consultation with prospective mothers, to ensure safe care for them and their babies.”

Last October an anaesthetist and nine supporting medical staff were recruited at Katoomba Hospital after the hospital’s maternity ward was closed for one quarter of all days in the first four months of 2009.

Mr Hedge said the hospital continues to do all it can to minimise any disruptions to birthing services, but added “the global shortage of some medical specialists, including anaesthetists, continues to pose a challenge in staffing the hospital’s maternity services consistently”.

Blue Mountains Hospital Equity and Access Lobby (HEAL) spokesperson Janet Mays expressed concern at the maternity unit closures and a recent spate of bed closures at Katoomba Hospital.

“We understand three beds were closed in the hospital’s mental health unit since December 29, eight beds remain closed in the rehabilitation unit and a further eight beds are closed in the children’s ward,” said Ms Mays.

“The hospital is a vital part of the social and economic fabric of our community and HEAL will keep highlighting these issues to help ensure the need for locally provided basic primary healthcare services remains top of mind for our State decision makers.”

Thursday, February 11, 2010

HEAL Media Release - Hospital Bed Closures Cause Concern

February 11th 2010

HEAL spokesperson, Janet Mays has expressed concern at the recent spate of bed closures at Blue Mountains District Anzac Memorial Hospital (BMDAMH).

“We understand that 3 beds have been closed in the Mental Health Unit since December 29th, 8 beds remain closed in the Rehabilitation Unit and a further 8 beds are closed in the Children’s Ward”.

“We are further concerned by reports that the switchboard and administrative functions at Springwood hospital have been closed and moved to Katoomba hospital and by the fact that maternity services have again been interrupted at BMDAMH. Whichever way you spin it, we are witnessing the decline of hospital services in the Blue Mountains”.

Ms Mays said that she was delighted to see a recent letter to the Gazette praising the staff and service provided by BMDAMH. “HEAL has always maintained that our hospital, if allowed to function, is fabulous. The described level of service (in the letter) needs however to be made available to all Blue Mountains residents. Sadly, for many Blue Mountains families, local hospital care is a thing of the past due to the nature of the health condition or the time of day that they require treatment.”

HEAL has requested a meeting with Sydney West Area Health Service (SWAHS) representatives to discuss the current bed closures. “We keenly await advice from SWAHS regarding a meeting time and date. Our message to SWAHS is please work with the community and tell us what is happening at the hospital” said Ms Mays.

“BMDAMH is a vital part of the social and economic fabric of our community. HEAL will keep highlighting the issues at BMDAMH to help ensure that the need for locally provided basic primary healthcare services remains top of mind for our State decision makers”.