DOCTORS and nurses say they have been lied to after the State Government failed to adequately consult them or justify its decision to close dozens of beds at two major Adelaide hospitals.
A total of 55 beds across both the Royal Adelaide and Queen Elizabeth hospitals will close, including the complete shutdown of ward S7 that accommodates 26 general medical patients at the RAH.
The state’s peak doctors union have described the closures as a “silly and grave decision” and a “very black day for the health of the community”.
But SA Health’s chief executive officer Vickie Kaminski has hosed down fears, stating “we’re not closing any hospital beds — we’re relocating 55 beds”.
Ms Kaminski said the 55 beds would be “relocated” to the Lyell McEwin Hospital and two aged care homes.
“We did extensive consultation … I’ve heard multiple times that consultation is the area that we fall down on so we’re trying to do it differently,” she said.
“We’ve said all along we’re going to be relocating beds from the centre to the north so that we can begin to provide more care to the north.”
SA Salaried Medical Officers Association president Dr David Pope told The Advertiser the union was “given assurances that Christmas bed closures would not result in those beds becoming permanently closed”.
“This means people will be lined up in corridors … and there is a high risk of medical conditions being diagnosed late and patient deaths as a result.”
Dr Pope said the union had lodged a dispute in the Industrial Relations Commission over the fact the government had not adequately consulted staff on its decision.
“Morally and ethically we will fight this through every means possible,” he said.
“It (the bed closures) has to be reversed — we were lied to basically.
“If they (the State Government) don’t reverse this, there’s absolutely no commitment from the government to look after the health, safety and wellbeing of the public.”
As part of the slated closures, nurses in the affected wards have been asked to fill out “Expression of interest” forms on where they would like to be relocated. A total of about 80 staff — mainly nurses — are affected.
Australian Nursing and Midwifery chief executive officer adjunct Professor Elizabeth Dabars said the government had broken their trust.
“This is about patient care and it’s an issue of trust,” she said.
“They (the government) haven’t supplied evidence to substantiate that the closures are safe.
“Commitments were given by both the Premier and the Minister for Health where it was very clear that no bed shall close unless evidence was provided that showed the bed was not required.”
Prof Dabars said the union would also take industrial action next week if required and urged the government to reverse its decision.
Opposition health spokesman Stephen Wade said the closures were putting patient care at risk.
“Our hospitals are overcrowded now — how will they cope with the closure of 60 beds?,” he said.
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