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Hospital Decant Risks Patients’ Safety

22 Nov 2016

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens' Health spokesperson

The Medical Ward of Royal Hobart Hospital’s B Block is moving to the “decant” building today.  This is despite senior clinical staff writing to the Premier earlier this month, asking for the B Block closure to be deferred.

Senior RHH staff also met with Health Minister, Michael Ferguson, recently and raised their serious concerns about the decant.  The Minister refused to consider deferring the decant process while the bed issue is sorted. 

Senior clinical staff warned Minister Ferguson that the reduction in Medical Ward beds at the decant is a serious risk to patient safety. It will mean less flexible bed management, and no prospect of a bed for patients when there is overflow in the Emergency Department.

Medical staff have battled to cut the number of patients in their ward down from 40 for the decant. The temporary building will only fit 22 beds.

Certain groups of patients, like the frail and elderly, are placed in danger if they aren't quickly moved from Emergency onto a bed in a ward.  There is a higher risk of dying for vulnerable patients like this.

The RHH is already struggling and doesn't need any more pressure on their Emergency Department. Last week on Wednesday, 8 people waited for more than 20 hours in the ED, 16 hours longer than the maximum National Hospital Standard.

A Level 3 Code, or “bed block”, is now commonplace in the Royal’s Emergency Department.  The lack of medical beds in the decant will mean patients are going to be forced to spend even longer in Emergency.

The revamped hospital is not due to open until 2019.  When Minister Ferguson is ignoring senior hospital staff, you have to wonder whether he is risking patient safety for the next two years to protect his political hide.