The Beagle Editor
Is the Eurobodalla Regional Hospital Project straight out of ABC’s UTOPIA comedy series?
Watching the latest episode of the UTOPIA series on ABC-TV, there was this eerie feeling of “déjà vu” when the media manager character explained to the bemused project team what “consultation” actually meant – quite hilarious in the series, but appalling when WE are the public in real life at the receiving end… The principle is for the Department to deliver what they want, totally irrespective of what the public requires and asks for, and to just sail through the years of public ‘noise’ by appeasing the community with “consultations” where media teams communicate through equivocation with no intention whatsoever of truthfully answering community concerns.
So we went and looked for actual examples in the most recent “Project Update“ graciously organised and delivered by NSW Health in December 22.
Here are some of these examples, taken from the Frequently Asked Questions (Frequently Asked Questions - Eurobodalla Hospital and Health Services Redevelopment (nsw.gov.au)
Example 1 : “Will the hospital be at Level 4 from the day it opens?”
“The Eurobodalla Regional Hospital will be built to accommodate a Level 4 health facility”.
Notice here: they do not say the hospital will open at Level 4 – it certainly won’t if we stop fighting – they just simply state the building will be big enough to host Level 4 services. Refer to what happened previously at the new Bega hospital where, years after opening, whole wards and operating theatres remain closed off and not used.
“The project will help meet the needs of the region’s growing population and is being delivered with future demand in mind, providing health services designed to adapt to expected growth”.
Notice again: this statement actually implies that the demand for Level 4 services does not exist yet, unsurprising given that their 2021-2031 Clinical Services Plan, which was used to define what services/bed numbers we’ll get, had projected for 2031 the population numbers already reached in the 2022 Census.
Do we really need to keep reminding SNSWLHD to re-calibrate their plans using up-to-date population figures?
“The redevelopment will be supported by a workforce plan to train, recruit and retain staff to meet the future growth of Eurobodalla Regional Hospital. The new hospital will require time to transition and develop the workforce to align with the new contemporary models of care, the new facility, technology and ways of working.”
Notice here: right from the start of the community’s campaign (2018, 5 years ago…), we alerted SNSWLHD to the need for timely recruiting and training more staff to operate a proper Emergency department in the CURRENT hospital, which would have allowed a smooth transition to the ICU in the new hospital. What they are telling us here is the new (beautiful) hospital will continue to function at Level 3 like the old hospital for a further undefined number of years. Again, the example of Bega hospital shows us what will happen, it took them many years to get their ICU accredited. This is why we need to continue to be super vigilant every single step of the way.
Example 2 : “Will there be an increase in beds?”
“The new hospital will be larger than both Moruya and Batemans Bay hospitals combined and deliver an increase in bed numbers. Contemporary health service design enables flexible use of beds in all clinical areas, as demand requires. This means that wards can be reconfigured if a department needs more beds at any given time.” Notice here: we have a classic use of jargon to duck out of giving us straightforward answers to a straightforward question. Beautiful invention this “flexible bed” concept, this for example could allow SNSWLHD to only plan for say 4 paediatric beds in the new hospital, and put the rest of the sick kids amongst adults in other wards, maybe Maternity… and where exactly will they redirect the overflow from the reduced number of Maternity beds?
And we can go on like this with the other ”answers” to our simple questions. The UTOPIA scriptwriters should monitor SNSWLHD’s website for inspiration: as they say, truth is stranger than fiction!
We have more examples to share, with important questions about planning such as Local Radiotherapy, so watch this space!
Mylène and Fitzroy Boulting,
ONE Eurobodalla L4 Regional Hospital Advocates Group. 18/01/23.
Mr Finger Man : Not listening