Geraldton hospital staffing figures heard at council meeting ‘incorrect’, says health service

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton Health Campus.
Camera IconGeraldton Health Campus. Credit: Lisa Favazzo/The Geraldton Guardian

The State’s regional health provider has refuted figures presented at last month’s City of Greater Geraldton council meeting which claimed the Mid West’s biggest public hospital was up to 50 per cent understaffed in October.

Council in December unanimously supported a motion to inform the Department of Health and State Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson of the “unsatisfactory” staffing levels at Geraldton Health Campus.

The motion was presented by Cr Michael Reymond suggested the letter — which would be written by City Mayor Shane Van Styn — should seek “formal advice” on how and when staff would be sourced to fill vacancies.

In his report, Cr Reymond said the motion was in response to “verbal concern” he received from local healthcare workers about “precarious” staffing levels in the region.

Mike Reymond has thrown his hat in the ring for City of Greater Geraldton council.
Camera Icon Cr Michael Reymond Credit: Michael Roberts/Geraldton Guardian

Speaking at the meeting, Cr Reymond said he had received figures from an anonymous hospital “source” which indicated the emergency department at Geraldton Health Campus had a staffing shortfall of 50 per cent for two days in October.

The ED was understaffed by 30 per cent for eight days and 20 per cent for 10 days during the month, according to Cr Reymond.

Cr Tarleah Thomas was one of several councillors to question the accuracy of Cr Reymond’s figures at the meeting.

“I am really concerned about where we get these stats from,” she said.

“I am sure if we were thrown stats about our staffing and our operations at the City, we would be really upset in getting some stats that are not entirely correct.”

Cr Reymond assured council the information he received from his source was “correct” and “verified”.

But WACHS regional medical director Dr Allan Pelkowitz said Cr Reymond’s figures were “incorrect”.

At the same time, Dr Pelkowitz confirmed staffing issues remained a problem across the regional health service.

“While the figures put forward are incorrect, there’s no doubt we’re finding it increasingly difficult to fill rosters,” he said.

“Like most hospitals and health services, we’re working in the context of State, national and international workforce shortages that have been exacerbated by border restrictions and the ongoing demands of the pandemic.

“To help address this, we’re working with the Department of Health on staff deployment partnerships and have our own rapid redeployment pool we can call on in times of need.”

Dr Pelkowitz said despite these pressures, Geraldton Health Campus staff continued to “perform the extraordinary” in difficult circumstances.

“We will continue to do everything within our power to support them but acknowledge these are difficult times for anyone working within the health sector,” he said.

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