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Full disclosure on Batemans Bay Hospital Emergency Department is required

The Batemans Bay community needs to be pushing for full disclosure of what and when changes will be happening to their hospital. As whispers, speculation and unsubstantiated rumours mount it appears that behind the scenes there is no disclosure, even to frontline staff who are asked in the street what is going on. As established in the Beagle article Changes to Emergency Department at Batemans Bay Hospital to send all ambulances south (Feb 8th,2021) and from statistics available on the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare – My Hospitals along with anecdotal evidence that Batemans Bay Emergency Department consistently sees more patients of genuine higher acuity and also carries the bulk of senior critical care staff. Anyone familiar with the layout and function of the Batemans Bay department can also see first hand that it is also superior to that of the accommodations provided in the current Moruya District Hospital. If there is any shortfall to be measured of Batemans Bay hospital one might cite not having a CT, or the absence of on-site gynecology or surgical consults. On investigation it is suggested that the Moruya District Hospital (MDH) Emergency Department presents as ill equipped on a number of levels, the first being that it is understood they have too few critical care staff on most shifts. With the prospect of directing all Batemans Bay region cases requiring transport to MDH there are concerns that this will exacerbate the current situation that sees ambulances being “ramped” (unable to off load patients) at times for more than an hour. The Beagle has learnt that it is not uncommon to hear that Batemans Bay Hospital Emergency Department patients cannot be sent to Moruya District Hospital Emergency Department because they are “overwhelmed” or “there is no where to put them”. Though advised that this doesn’t happen every day it was suggested as common when Moruya District Hospital Emergency Department have a bad day and noted that there is generally a "known" that Batemans Bay hospital can cope under pressure where

Moruya District Hospital struggles. It is also offered by those spoken to that the Moruya District Hospital remains offers an unwarranted additional workload during retrievals. This increased workload for staff adds an further burden to staff resulting in the present ergonometrical inadequate environment. With no specific timeframe of updating the Moruya District Hospital Emergency Department to the standards it will require to serve the wider community in the immediate short-term frustrations are mounting and will continue to do so until details of planned improvements in both resourcing and working environment has been disseminated. The Beagle is following up on the latest rumour that the Emergency Departments will be combined at Moruya District Hospital in demountables as soon as August. It is understood that a meeting held this week offered no formal dissemination of information. With little to go on confusion, and speculation remains about what might lie ahead for the Emergency Departments including provision restructures, senior management reshuffles and suggestions of an analysis of current staffing skill sets. While much of this remains speculation and rumour the anxiety builds. Already there is hushed talk in corridors and at water fountains speculating that the new Hospital will not have specialists wards for paediatrics, ICU, mental health or even orthopaedic coverage available with locals continued to be referred down to South East Regional Hospital in Bega. It is suggested, from those we have spoken to off the record, that "locals might easily accept moving the hospital down to Moruya on the premise that these services will be provided." With work starting this month to upgrade the Moruya District Hospital Close Observation Unit it is also speculated that this heralds a plan to close the Batemans Bay Close

Observation unit resulting in more unwell patients that are not able to be immediately transferred to tertiary hospitals will be sent to instead to Moruya District Hospital.

Overall there is a community fear that the skill set of the medical services being provided at Batemans Bay Hospital will be judged inferior with resources stripped as more services are syphoned off to Moruya District Hospital before the new regional hospital is built. The universal message from those who spoke with The Beagle (and must remain anonymous for very good reason) is that "the community needs full disclosure and needs to be demanding answers now."

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