No extra staff for bigger, better emergency department
THE newly upgraded Lismore Base Hospital emergency department will be four times the size and have twice as many beds, but operate with no additional clinical staff when it opens mid-year.
Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the larger emergency department with the same number of patients would just mean staff "might have to walk a bit further."
"Of course we ensure there are sufficient members of staff to run the facility, and it's based on how many patients we treated, meaning we don't automatically employ extra staff if there are the same number of patients," she said during a tour of the hospital's new facilities yesterday.
"They (staff) might have to walk a bit further, but if there aren't any extra patients, they should be able to deal with them.
"If there are extra patients that's when we might consider putting extra staff on, but that's a matter for the local health district, it's an operational matter, but that is how it's generally worked."
The new emergency department will included 55 beds and treatments spaces which is 30 more than the existing department.
The new $80.25 million Stage 3A redevelopment also includes a new and expanded renal dialysis unit, new mortuary, expanded community health unit, pathology unit and temporary 10 bed maternity department.
Mrs Skinner said the opening of the emergency department mid-year would coincide with the opening of the hospital's Uralba St multi-storey car park, which includes 270 parking spaces over five levels.
She said the emergency department included a "whole range of elements" that would make it more efficient, including a fast-track zone for patients who don't need to be admitted.
"It's got a new area where ambulances bring their patients and the most senior doctors on the staff will look at them, triage them, and determine what's needed," she said.
"That's a new model of care that means patients don't go from one doctor to another before they see the most senior and experienced doctor.
"I'm anticipating that once this becomes functional, there'll be huge improvements in the flow through of patients from the emergency department through to the rest of the hospital."
Lismore MP Thomas George said over the years the emergency department had treated about 40,000 patients.
"This is four times the physical size, and going from 25 to 55 beds is just unbelievable, and will certainly improve the health care for the people not only of Lismore but for the whole Northern Rivers."