The Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment is expected to be completed in a year’s time. (ABC News: Tony King)
Doctors have welcomed changes to the redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital, saying they will eventually help take the strain off the hospital’s emergency department (ED).
- The redevelopment plans for the Royal are changed to help ease ED pressures
- The nurses union complains there will be no immediate relief
- A new 12-bed mental health facility is to be built in New Town
Health Minister Michael Ferguson announced today the entire 10th floor of the new K-block tower will house a single 64-bed general medicine and respiratory medicine ward.
Under the original plan, the ward had 27 beds and patients would be spread across multiple levels.
Mr Ferguson said the single ward would help patients to recover faster and spend less time in hospital.
“Patients will also be able to move more rapidly from the emergency department into ward beds, helping to reduce waiting times for care, relieving pressure on our emergency department staff and improving patient flow throughout the whole hospital,” he said.
The assessment and planning unit would also be moved from its current location next to the ED to another part of the hospital.
Australian Medical Association Tasmania president Dr John Davis called the decision very positive and said the single ward would help the hospital to manage its capacity more easily.
He said moving the assessment and planning unit could allow the ED to expand.
“It has the potential to have an impact on the emergency department by freeing up some space down in the basement near the emergency department, which could actually be added to the emergency department and increase their bed stock,” he said.
The revisions to the redevelopment will help patients recover faster, says Mr Ferguson. (ABC News: Georgie Burgess)
Chairman of the Royal Hobart Hospital’s medical staff association, Dr Frank Nicklason, said clinicians had been calling for the changes for some time.
“It will enable reconfiguration and expansion of the emergency department so that there’ll be the possibility of setting up a paediatric emergency department and specific emergency department for patients with mental health problems as well as treatment rooms,” he said.
RHH executive director Susan Gannon said the redevelopment would take about a year to complete.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s state secretary, Emily Shepherd, said nurses continued to struggle to provide care in the overstretched ED.
“It is disappointing that despite these announcements today there won’t be any immediate relief for our members and certainly patients when they’re accessing the Royal Hobart Hospital,” she said.
New mental health facility
Dr Frank Nicklason says for some time there have been calls to make changes to the redevelopment plans. (ABC News)
Mr Ferguson also announced a 12-bed mental health facility would be built at St John’s Park in New Town.
The $11.5 million facility would replace 10 sub-acute mental health beds that were earlier proposed for Mistral Place, a facility located near the Royal
“This means our total commitment to deliver 25 extra mental health beds has now expanded to 27 extra beds, which is further proof that this Government is absolutely committed to meeting increasing demand,” Mr Ferguson said.
The Government is also expanding its Hospital in the Home to include 12 mental health beds in southern Tasmania, which will allow patients to be treated outside of hospitals.
“This service will reduce the current pressure on the ED, ensuring more Tasmanians living with mental ill health can receive the care they need, in the right place, at the right time,” Mr Ferguson said.
Tasmania’s Mental Health Council said it was reviewing the announcement but welcomed the prospect of new home-based mental health beds.
“Evidence shows us that the outcomes are better when individuals are able to remain in their own environment to receive care,” said the council’s CEO, Connie Digolis.
Dr Frank Nicklason said in-home mental health care had worked well interstate but would not alleviate the need for more acute mental health beds in hospitals.
“There are some categories of patients with mental health problems that won’t be helped by such a system because they are homeless and we know that the homeless population has a marked representation of people with mental illness,” he said.
The State Opposition said Mr Ferguson had not adequately consulted health groups before making the announcement.
“None of them were consulted by the Minister before he made this announcement today,” Opposition Leader Rebecca White said.
“They are all waiting to see the details and have many questions about how it will be delivered safely and whether this will improve patient outcomes there in Tasmania.”