Great Southern residents will wait less time for elective surgery with the construction of a new $4.4million day surgery unit at Albany Hospital.
Health Minister Jim McGinty welcomed the Federal Government’s move to fund the new unit, which will be included in the current redevelopment of Albany Hospital. The State Government has already allocated $50million to the project.
“Albany Hospital has been selected as one of two hospitals in Western Australia to benefit from an initiative between the Commonwealth and State Government to provide extra facilities for elective surgery,” Mr McGinty said.
“It is expected that the new unit will allow an extra 620 same-day elective surgery and day procedures to be performed each year - 15 per cent more than the current number of cases.
“Not only will the unit cut the wait time for surgery, it will also reduce the need for people to travel to Perth for surgery.
“The unit will provide an extra 12 beds in a new area conveniently located next to the hospital’s two operating theatres, to allow patients to recover after their day surgery.”
This will add to the hospital’s existing 21 recovery beds, of which only four are currently located adjacent to the theatres.
The existing 17 day-procedure unit beds will be freed-up for patients undergoing non-surgical medical procedures who are currently treated on the surgical ward. In turn, this re-allocation will free-up beds in the surgical ward for people who need to have surgery as an inpatient.
The hospital is also exploring the option of staffing the new 12-bed area for longer periods, which would mean a greater number of day procedures and in turn, inpatient procedures could be performed.
Part of the $4.4million will also be used to build a new day surgery waiting room that will allow patients to wait in comfort and provide a private area for pre-operative checks.
The Minister said the new unit was a key element of the program to build WA elective surgery capacity. The program aimed to ensure all patients receive their surgery within the clinically desirable time frame from the end of 2008 onwards.
“The State Government negotiated with the Commonwealth Government to obtain funding for the new unit as part of the Commonwealth’s Elective Surgery Waiting List Reduction Plan,” he said.
“The hospital performed 3,318 same-day elective surgeries and day procedures in 2006-07 and this is anticipated to increase to 4,152 for 2007-08.
“It is anticipated that by 2016, 5,700 same-day elective surgeries and day procedures will be required by residents of the region which could be serviced at the hospital.
“This new unit will go a long way towards addressing the increased demand for these services in the Great Southern region.”
Mr McGinty said St John of God Health Care had also expressed interest in performing private day procedures at Albany Hospital.
“St John of God Health Care and the WA Country Health Service are currently considering a number of options for providing private day procedures on the hospital site,” he said.
Albany MLA Peter Watson welcomed the funding boost.
“The first construction tender for the $54.4million redevelopment of Albany Hospital will be called for in August this year, with work due to get under way before the end of the year,” Mr Watson said.
“The redevelopment will significantly boost emergency, surgery, maternity and mental health services, as well as providing links with smaller regional hospitals throughout the region. The upgrade is due to be completed in late 2011.
“The hospital upgrade will ensure the hospital is able to fulfil its role as one of six regional resource centres located throughout country WA well into the future.
"The State Government has committed more than $600million towards completing capital works projects in regional areas across the State over the coming six years.”
The State Government’s commitment to reduce waiting times for elective surgery has had significant success. In July 2005 there were 21,535 people waiting for elective surgery throughout the State, compared with 15,675 at the end of April this year. The average waiting time for people on the list was 4.47 months in July 2005, compared with 2.56 months at the end of April 2008.
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