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Repatriation Hospital fighting for life under Labor

Aug 12, 2012

Martin Hamilton-Smith MP

Shadow Minister for Health & Ageing
Shadow Minister for Mental Health
Shadow Minister for Substance Abuse


Repatriation Hospital fighting for life under Labor

The Weatherill Labor Government must reveal whether plans to effectively remove emergency department (ED) services from the Repatriation General Hospital (RGH) and to slash the Critical Care Unit are the beginning of the end, leading to closure of the RGH if Labor wins in 2014.

"Labor’s Sustainable Budget Commission (SBC) recommended closure of the RGH to save up to $35.3 million per annum by 2013-14. Cuts foreshadowed in the KPMG report look like a step in this direction despite government denials,” Shadow Minister for Health Martin Hamilton-Smith said.

“Health Minister Hill has foreshadowed the closure of the Acute Referral Unit to save $1.5 million per annum by transferring up to 7,000 emergency cases to over-stretched Flinders Medical Centre (FMC) ED where ramping is a regular occurrence.

“This cut will result in increased inter-hospital transfer costs, new burdens on the SA Ambulance Service and the transfer of medical and nursing staff from RGH.

"Health Minister Hill also wants to ‘reconfigure the Critical Care Unit’ at RGH. Put simply, that means downgrading RGH’s ability to provide intensive care to over 1000 critically ill patients per year, who will be shunted elsewhere.

“Up to 46 registered nurses (RNs), a total of 39 FTE presently work in the unit. Staffing will be cut to save $1.2 million per year.

“What State Labor is proposing, in effect guts the RGH’s ability to handle emergency presentations and to provide critical care to the critically ill.

“It’s the death of a thousand cuts and an apparent step towards the effective closure of RGH as a fully capable hospital. Is Labor’s plan for RGH no more than a geriatric nursing home?

“Labor’s SBC which recommended the hospital be closed also recommended the transfer of acute inpatient activity from the RGH to other public and private hospitals along with the transfer of emergency department functions. This was all foreshadowed by the SBC.

“Premier Weatherill must come clean with veterans and older South Australians about Labor’s real plans for the RGH. Is this a step towards the end?” Mr Hamilton-Smith said.

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