GRH ‘economising’ on beds

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
Member for Geraldton Ian Blayney awaits minor surgery at St John of God Hospital Geraldton.
Camera IconMember for Geraldton Ian Blayney awaits minor surgery at St John of God Hospital Geraldton. Credit: Ian Blayney

Ian Blayney MLA said Geraldton Regional Hospital used to routinely “buy” beds from St John of God Hospital to fill shortages.

“I am wondering if they are economising by not buying as many beds as they have in other years,” he said.

“It has been a practice for a long time. It benefits both parties.”

Last month questions in Parliament from Nationals Health spokesman Martin Aldridge revealed Geraldton Regional Hospital had cancelled or rescheduled more than 420 elective surgeries in the past three months.

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“I had patients calling me from the waiting room of the hospital going in for elective surgery and, in some cases, minor procedures,” he said.

“They had to fast overnight and, in some cases, called me five or six hours after their expected surgery time.

“They had no knowledge of when the surgery would take place apart from the surgery was delayed.”

In answering Mr Aldridge’s question, parliamentary secretary Alanna Clohesy said the hospital had declared “code yellow”, or an internal emergency, five times between August 21 and November 14 due to a shortage of beds.

“Surgery has been cancelled or postponed for various reasons, including clinical requirements such as emergency cases, clinical issues related to booked patients, availability of medical and nursing staff, administrative issues and bed availability,” she said.

Agriculture region member Darren West said the hospital often had a “code yellow” during peak patient demand.

“What is most important is that we have universal health care that is accessible to everybody,” he said.

“The sickest patients will be given priority.

“We have wonderful staff at our local hospital and it is good to keep reminding people that we appreciate them.”

Health Minister Roger Cook said his Government’s planned $73.3 million stage one redevelopment of Geraldton Health Campus included 10 new emergency department treatment bays and an additional 24 inpatient beds.

He said these included 12 mental health inpatient unit beds, four mental health short-stay unit beds and eight intensive care beds.

Most of these works are scheduled to begin after the 2021 election.

WA Country Health Service has been contacted for comment.

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