Metropolitan Hospitals

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS (14:53): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Health and Wellbeing regarding metropolitan hospitals.

The Hon. J.S.L. DAWKINS: Over many years I have worked closely with the communities of the northern suburbs and been well aware of the pressures that their hospitals face. Will the minister advise the council of progress in the redevelopment of metropolitan hospitals?

The Hon. S.G. WADE (Minister for Health and Wellbeing) (14:54): I thank the member for his question. Over the last four years the Labor Party systematically deformed South Australia's health system under the banner of Transforming Health. It is always easier to tear things apart than it is to rebuild them and South Australians should know that it will take years to rebuild. That has been the advice of both health professional organisations and health advocates.

On the weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting the Lyell McEwin Hospital to open a new emergency extended care unit. The unit is a 14-bay unit. This is the first stage of the expansion of the ED at the Lyell McEwin. It means a net increase of 11 beds across the emergency department and it will help the hospital manage the heightened demand that winter brings. Population growth in the north in recent years has put increased pressure on the Lyell McEwin Hospital and seen a significant increase in presentations to the ED.

Since the last substantial ED upgrade over a decade ago, the number of presentations to the Lyell McEwin Hospital ED has increased from 35,000 to 70,000. It was put under further pressure when the former Labor government downgraded the Modbury Hospital as part of its Transforming Health budget cuts. The project will bring the ED capacity to 52 beds, contributing to the much-needed upgrade of healthcare facilities in the north.

The unit will be able to assist in managing the winter demand by giving more options for emergency department clinicians in the management of cases that present. It will allow patients to be cared for beyond four hours towards 24 hours. A patient who might need that level of care might be somebody who, for example, has experienced a head trauma and people want to observe theclient for an extended period. For example, it might be somebody who is experiencing dehydration and needs fluids, and it could be as diverse as somebody waiting for an allied health assessment before they return home.

Additional consultants and nurses are being recruited to support the expansion. The project is part of a wider redevelopment, which includes further expansions to the ED. Construction of stage 1 began in February and was completed in 12 weeks, and it adds to the significant amount of work being done in NALHN to improve patient flow through the hospital.

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