Mr DULUK (Davenport) (15:42): I rise today to once again urge the government to revisit
its decision to close the Repat Hospital. The Southern Adelaide Local Health Network, and indeed all South Australians, simply cannot afford to lose this critical institution. If the government ignores the repeated request to save the Repat and goes ahead with its plans, I believe that so many people in my electorate, including many clinicians, whom the government chooses at times to ignore, will feel the consequences that will reverberate across South Australia's health network for years to come.
In 2015-16, 17,867 patients were admitted to the Repat and about 134,933 outpatients
consultations were performed in that financial year. The question I ask the minister, which I repeated in estimates yesterday (believe it or not, I did not get an answer) is: where will the patients go if the doors of the Repat are closed? We still do not have an answer from the health minister and the government.
The Repat provides more than 200 beds for general medicine, surgery, palliative care,
mental health and rehabilitation services. Over the next four months, in the lead-up to its closure, around 120 beds will become available in SAHLN, with the new rehabilitation facility, palliative care ward and geriatric unit at the Flinders Medical Centre, as well as the addition of the Jamie Larcombe facility. However, that still leaves a shortage of about 100 beds.
During a recent hearing of the Select Committee on Transforming Health in the other place,
Professor Bill Heddle, Transitional Lead Clinical in the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University, was asked if there were any programs or initiatives that he is aware of in the next four months to deliver efficiencies that will free up 100 beds. His answer was, and I quote:
Not that I'm aware of. The changes in care at FMC started when the doors of the hospital opened in 1976, and have been incessant since then. It's not as though there's been a period where we suddenly say, 'We have to be more efficient'. It has been part of the ethos of the institution from the very beginning that we continue to look at innovations of care, providing better health outcomes and shorter length of stay.
The loss of 100 beds will come at a time when medical services in SALHN are stretched. Flinders Medical Centre is already straining under the weight of chronic overcrowding. Emergency department physicians have warned SA Health chiefs that they are 'unable to guarantee the safety of our patients', noting that the ED was designed for a maximum of 70,000 presentations a year but that activity is on trend to exceed 90,000 visitations this year. They are profoundly concerned at the high likelihood of a critical adverse event or events occurring.
Secretary of the Ambulance Employees Association of South Australia, Mr Phil Palmer, has
described the current situation of ambulance ramping outside major hospitals, including Flinders, as 'the worst in his 30 years as a union secretary'. SALHN simply cannot afford to lose 100 beds from their network, and I do not know any other network in this state, whether it be country, NALHN or CALHN, that is losing 100 beds out of its network.
Sadly, the concerns about Transforming Health of those living in southern Adelaide in my
community, through the suburbs of Kingswood, Urrbrae, Blackwood, Belair, Coromandel Valley, Glenalta, Aberfoyle Park and Happy Valley—and they are, indeed, opposed to Transforming Health—have fallen on deaf ears. We have many elected members in the southern parts of Adelaide sitting on government benches, but they are unwilling or unable to represent the views of their constituency, including the member for Elder and the current member for Waite.
In contrast to the deathly silence of those opposite, I will continue to stand up for the
constituents in my community, voice my opposition to the closure of the Repat and put the voice of my community forward— and that is of strong opposition to the closure of the Repat and, indeed, the downgrading of services across SALHN.
This government's short-sighted position has to be reversed. The closure of the Repat will
have a devastating effect on teaching, training and research within SALHN. While less obvious, the consequences of these disruptions are no less important to our public hospital services, but they will have a likely long-term impact on the provision of health care in our community.
I will take these last couple of seconds to commend the good advocacy of the Liberal
candidate for Elder, Carolyn Habib, in whose area the Repat now sits. Carolyn Habib is hosting a community forum tomorrow evening at the Repat at 7 o'clock to talk about what our plan is to renew the Repat and to inform her community of the devastating changes this Labor government is puttingon her community as well.