Monday, June 7, 2004. 3:09pm (AEST)
New public hospital beds hinge on staffing
New South Wales Health Minister Maurice Iemma has conceded that staffing problems may prevent the opening of some of the nearly 1,000 new public hospital beds announced today.
The beds are part of a plan aimed at addressing pressure points in the public hospital system.
The Sustainable Access plan revealed today by Mr Iemma includes an extra 973 extra public hospital beds.
Four hundred and ten of these are temporary to cover the peak winter period.
It also involves the deployment of hospital improvement teams to nine major hospital across the state in an effort to reduce delays and improve service.
The third element involves a series of moves to deliver more appropriate care for elderly patients currently occupying acute care beds.
Mr Iemma agrees staffing is a major issue throughout the system and could be a problem in providing the extra beds.
"Where we have the resources, where we have the human resources they will be provided. Where we don't the beds will not be opened," he said.
He has also stressed the plan is just the first step in addressing shortcomings within the public hospital system.
The State Opposition claims a new government plan to address shortcomings in the public hospital system is proof of the folly of earlier policy.
The Opposition's Health spokesman Barry O'Farrell says the move shows the Government's policy until last year of cutting hospital beds was wrong:
"Until the Government starts to reform the public hospital system and until it starts to take out the area health system, morale will not improve and you'll still have problems attracting nurses to staff these beds," he said.
The Nurses Association has welcomed the government's commitment to ensure the new beds are adequately staffed.