Tuesday, February 19, 2008

No More Excuses

It is beyond belief that $98 million dollars has been spent by the New South Wales government building the brand new Bathurst hospital only to be told by doctors that it is so badly designed and built that it needs to be, at least partly, torn down. The list of faults is staggering. Leaking sewerage is dripping from one floor to the next. Rooms are too small for the purposes for which they were intended. Vehicular access will not accommodate ambulances. Wards have been opened with fewer rather than more beds. The paging system is faulty and doctors have failed to receive urgent messages about patients at risk. The full report extends to five pages.

The people of Bathurst are entitled to be outraged. The rest of New South Wales should be worried. Something like this unfolds over a period of years through the planning, project management, construction, and fit-out stages. How is it that a project of this nature can make it all the way to commissioning before the alarm bells go off? Sadly, Bathurst is not the only community in need of a hospital upgrade.

The Royal North Shore Hospital has been the subject of repeated controversy, and is itself the subject of a $720 million upgrade. What guarantee is there that this crucial project will fare any better than Bathurst? The only thing worse than not spending the money on essential services, is spending it badly. The continuing theme that has emerged is that the government seems to be incapable of listening to the people who are actually at the coalface, such as the doctors and nurses who are battling to hold the health system together.

The New South Wales government is a high tax, high expenditure government, but what exactly are we getting for the money?


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