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Women's and Children's Hospital is in good shape, actually

Opinion

Far from being run down, the Women’s and Children’s Hospital is committed to providing the best quality patient care, and is upgrading facilities and services while a new hospital is planned, argues Lindsey Gough.

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The Women’s and Children’s Health Network is going through an exciting period of change, but we remain committed to the highest level of care and world-class, family-centred treatment for women, babies, children and young people in South Australia.

The safety and quality of the services we provide to our patients and their families is always our number one our priority. In fact, the network has recently received full accreditation against the new stringent national safety and quality standards, and was the first in the state to do so.

I want to reassure South Australians our hospital provides safe, high quality care to all of our patients, and I take supporting my staff to deliver such care very seriously.

This article is responding to a scathing article on the hospital, by campaigner Warren Jones. You can read Jones’ piece here.

Our extensive range of clinics and services are selected and modelled to suit the needs of South Australian women, children and their families. From time-to-time, some patients may need to travel to interstate due to the specialised nature of care they require. This is to ensure our patients always have access to the best treatment that delivers the best outcomes for their health.

One example is paediatric cardiac surgery. We send young South Australians in need of cardiac surgery to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, where our clinicians have a close working relationship with their Victorian colleagues. We do this because the safest service available to our children is in Melbourne.

It is well recognised that to provide the best care, you are required to undertake a minimum number of procedures each year. We don’t have enough cardiac cases to safely provide a standalone paediatric cardiac surgery service.

I recently commissioned an independent review to confirm sending our cardiac surgery patients interstate was the best option for their care. The review’s recommendations show paediatric cardiac surgery should remain at the Royal Children’s Hospital – it remains safest, and offers the best care for our children and their families to travel to Melbourne for such complex surgery.

We also must ensure we are fiscally responsible for South Australian public money. The review undertaken showed the costs for SA Paediatric Cardiac Surgery to be done in Adelaide would be more than the costs of the service currently provided by the Royal Children Hospital.

Our services, along with our doctors, nurses and staff, provide excellent care to South Australians, and we are fortunate to be able to begin planning a new world-class hospital that will match our high level of care.

This new facility, co-located with the Royal Adelaide Hospital, will give South Australian families access to the most advanced hospital care, technology and medical research for many years to come.

It is a very exciting time for us, with the consultation process underway for our new hospital. The input of our staff is vital in the development of our new hospital and high levels of consultation will ensure facility best meets the needs of South Australians.

This is why we have engaged over 90 project user groups made up of over 350 staff, including more than 70 doctors. This engagement shows how just how passionate our staff are about being involved in the design and development of the new hospital.

While the new hospital is several years away, we will not neglect those who need services now.

A $50 million upgrade of the current Women’s and Children’s Hospital is underway so we can continue to provide the highest quality of care while planning continues for a new hospital.

The upgrades are addressing high priority clinical and infrastructure requirements in four key areas, enabling us to continue to deliver high quality and safe services to our patients and their families.

This includes redevelopment of our mental health ward, a redeveloped neonatal nursery – half of which opened last Friday – operating theatre refurbishments and significant upgrades to our paediatric emergency department.

Key to our services is the equipment used in our hospital, which is regularly reviewed and prioritised for replacement. This is based on clinical risk and end of life date of the equipment. Equipment replacement is included in our annual budget and our hospital does not have a backlog for replacement.

Our doctors, nurses and staff are the heart of our hospital and I am extremely proud of the dedication they show to providing the best possible care for our patients, and I have a deep respect for all they do.

Whenever they raise concerns, we listen. We work very closely with our clinicians, hosting regular working groups covering a wide range of discussions, information sharing and actions, while medical staff meetings are held fortnightly. This is an unprecedented time for the health care sector, and the health and well-being of our staff remains a priority.

The Women’s and Children’s Hospital is evolving and I know together we will achieve our vision of being a leading and respected health network for women, babies, children, young people and their families, which all South Australians can continue to be proud of.

 Lindsey Gough is CEO, Women’s and Children’s Health Network.

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