25 June 2021

NSW Health responds to criticism over Eurobodalla Regional Hospital's bed numbers

| Hannah Sparks
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Mother and baby holding hands

Only three maternity beds will be available at the new Eurobodalla Regional Hospital under NSW Health’s new plan. Photo: Aditya Romansa.

NSW Health says the new Eurobodalla Regional Hospital is “expected” to provide level-four emergency, level-four maternity and level-three paediatric services, despite cutting the number of beds in those departments.

The new hospital will replace Moruya District Hospital and Batemans Bay Hospital on the NSW South Coast.

Responding to questions from Region Media, a Southern NSW Local Health District (SNSWLHD) spokesperson promised the hospital will “deliver on the clinical needs identified in the clinical services plan” and “be larger than both Moruya and Batemans Bay hospitals”.

“The current planning for the new hospital is for an overall bed capacity well in excess of the current combined bed capacity of 111 beds across Moruya and Batemans Bay hospitals,” said the spokesperson.

“There will be an important focus on the expansion of the workforce to meet the needs of the additional bed capacity and role delineation as the health needs of the community progressively increase.

READ MORE NSW Health cuts Eurobodalla hospital bed numbers, says Moruya doctor

“When complete, the new health service will include an emergency department, operating theatres, a day-stay surgical unit, increased capacity for chemotherapy and renal dialysis, a close observation unit with capacity for intensive care services, and research and education facilities.”

However, the spokesperson didn’t answer Region Media’s questions about why the number of beds has been cut and why the community wasn’t consulted beforehand.

The clinical services plan for the $200 million hospital at Moruya promised 165 overnight and day beds, including six paediatric beds, 16 emergency department beds, and four maternity beds.

While this means an increase in overnight and day beds from the 111 available at Moruya and Batemans Bay hospitals, the number of maternity beds would be less than the seven available at Moruya.

There is also no increase in the number of operating and procedure rooms, despite the fact the new hospital is intended to provide level-four intensive care; emergency, general and acute medicine; general surgery; gynaecology and maternity services; and level-three neonatal and paediatric medicine and surgery.

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Last week, obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Michael Holland, from Moruya, revealed the number of maternity beds will also be reduced from four to three, paediatric beds from six to four, and emergency department beds from 13 to 12.

Dr Holland described SNSWLHD’s response as a “script”.

He said it isn’t possible to provide level-three and level-four services with so few beds, and that the latest plan will “result in the new hospital operating less services than the current hospital in key areas of family health”.

Subsequently, Dr Holland has launched a petition to the NSW Legislative Assembly and the Upper House.

The petition calls on the federal and NSW health ministers to remind SNSWLHD of its commitment to the clinical services plan signed off in March 2020, and to push for local radiation oncology treatments.

You can email [email protected] for a copy of the petition.

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Quite Concerned7:01 pm 26 Jun 21

No cardiac, no orthopaedic. These types of patients will be taken by NSW Ambulance Service ambulances to Bega or Canberra, meaning vital, lifesaving, emergency ambulance crews will leave the area for hours on end. No prizes for guessing what this means when you’re choking, when your mother suffers a cardiac arrest, when your son is in a motor vehicle accident, when your toddler has a seizure, when your neighbour has a dangerous mental health episode, when a visitor breaks their neck in the surf, or any other life-threatening emergency. The new hospital will be shiny and new, offer very little in new services, but the suffering of the area’s residents in terms of ambulance needs will continue as it has for decades.

Your concerns are genuine & it is worrying for our region the funding or lack of it given our regions statistics across the board for many conditions. At this level we would never have major cardiac procedures here, really only minor such as cardio versions for AF, our major tertiary hospitals are where cardiac pts need to be. Major orthopaedic procedures are a costly venture & often contentiously argued with regard to how many procedures are allowed to be performed per year. We have minor orthopaedic here now, major is out of our area, it would be nice to have it locally however we cannot have everything, the budget deliverance controls this. Regarding ambulances, hopefully there will be an injection in funding there with an increase in ambulances on our regional roads. They’re also struggling too with their lack of staff numbers & from budgetary constraints
Our health system is frustrating however it is still one of the best in the world. Rurally we are disadvantaged, compared to our city folk, distance controls our lives with many travelling 2 plus hours often. Our post code needs prioritising. I am confident our shiny new hospital will add to our regions health, we just need to keep pushing forward

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