24/7 overflow a solution for bed shortage: GP

Headshot of Adam Poulsen
Adam PoulsenGeraldton Guardian
Midwest GP Network chair Dr Ian Taylor said redevelopments to Geraldton Hospital promised by the State Government would do little to ease a "chronic" bed shortage.
Camera IconMidwest GP Network chair Dr Ian Taylor said redevelopments to Geraldton Hospital promised by the State Government would do little to ease a "chronic" bed shortage. Credit: Supplied

The head of the Mid West GP Network has called for an immediate “virtual” co-location of Geraldton’s hospitals to ease bed shortage pressures on the public hospital.

Dr Ian Taylor’s call comes after an 84-year-old woman in acute kidney pain had to rest on the floor of the Geraldton Hospital emergency department for two hours last week because no beds were available.

Dr Taylor said the St John of God Hospital’s capacity to provide relief to Geraldton Hospital was limited due to a lack of 24/7 resident medical staffing.

“Clearly the best short-term solution that would not involve bricks and mortar would be a virtual co-location of the two hospitals that would allow full resident staffing of at least a section of SJOG, suitable for medium acuity patients,” Dr Taylor said.

“This would take an enormous amount of pressure off Geraldton Hospital and ensure the long-term viability of SJOG Hospital in Geraldton as well.”

Dr Taylor said the incident involving the 84-year-old was a “shocking” but familiar sight.

“This situation is not uncommon in Geraldton due to the small emergency department and bed block that occurs up the chain because of the inadequate size of the hospital and lack of beds,” he said.

“My GP and specialist colleagues saw this coming in 2002 when we reviewed the new hospital plans, but the Government ignored our concerns.

“I thundered long and loud about the inadequate hospital ... but the Liberal Government had other priorities in Perth and ignored us.”

VideoAn 84-year-old grandmother has been forced to sleep on the floor of Geraldton hospital's emergency department because of a bed shortage.

Dr Taylor — who is also chairman of the Geraldton Hospital Medical Advisory Committee and director of the Panaceum Group — said a redevelopment promised by the current Labor Government was welcome, but did not go far enough and would not be finished until the next term of government.

“This redevelopment is only to the ‘front end’ of the hospital, with expansion to ED, a high dependency unit and some mental health beds,” he said.

“It will only free up a handful of general beds. If something is not done to address the chronic patient bed shortage, Geraldton Hospital will endure this Third World situation for another decade.”

WA’s regional health services drew widespread criticism after a photograph emerged of the elderly woman — who did not want to be named — lying in a doorway at Geraldton Hospital last week.

Within 30 minutes, Health JU Minister Roger Cook had issued an apology and requested an urgent investigation.

“It is all very well for Minister Cook to demand answers from the health bosses, but it is the inaction of successive governments to provide the proper infrastructure that got us into this mess in the first place,” Dr Taylor said.

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