Noarlunga Hospital $10 million upgrade speech

Read my speech on Noarlunga Hospital's $10 million upgrade including two new operating theatres for the South

Chris Picton MP - House of Assembly Speech - 14 October 2015 - Public Works Committee Report on Noarlunga Hospital Upgrade

I rise to support this report from the Public Works Committee regarding the upgrade to Noarlunga Hospital. As members will, I am sure, be aware, Noarlunga Hospital is a very important facility for residents who live in the southern suburbs. It is quite a distance from the outer southern suburbs in my electorate to Flinders Medical Centre, so having Noarlunga Hospital there to service people in my electorate is very important and I know everybody in my electorate is a strong supporter of the services and the doctors and nurses who work at Noarlunga Hospital. 

It is great to see that, as part of the Transforming Health project, $10 million will be spent at Noarlunga. I am very excited to see that that is going to include two new operating theatres for the hospital, both of which are going to be 55 square metres in size, which is significantly larger than the current operating theatres at the hospital. This will enable Noarlunga to become a centre for day surgery in the southern suburbs. We are increasingly seeing more and more operations being undertaken as day surgery. 

Day surgery means up to a 23-hour hospital stay so it can be quite involved. One of the benefits of creating Noarlunga as a centre where day surgery can happen is that it can be much more efficient and it can mean that very few people will need to get their surgery cancelled. One of the unfortunate things about the health system at the moment is that many people who have their elective surgery scheduled have organised leave and family to support them and then find out that their elective surgery gets cancelled because there has been a large number of emergency admissions, and that particularly happens over the winter flu season. 

Looking at the experience of other states, and in particular the Victorian health system, if we can create some hospitals as elective surgery centres, then that will mean there is less likelihood that patients will get their surgery cancelled. That means that patients will be able to get their surgery quicker and there will be less disruption to the health system if we can do that, so that will mean that more patients will be able to get their surgery at Noarlunga. 

I was interested to see in Hansard that the health department, in their evidence to the Public Works Committee, said that that will be a wide range of different types of surgery, and as many as they can possibly do through day surgery will be happening at Noarlunga. I will certainly support that and support seeing a huge range of different types of surgery happening at Noarlunga than happens at the moment. 

One of the other important parts of this $10 million project is to create some separate physical location in the emergency department for paediatric patients. As members may know, at the moment there is no separate paediatric section in the emergency department. That means that children are mixed in with all the adults who are in the emergency department, and it can be a confronting place for a child to be in an emergency department considering the huge number of different cases that it deals with. 

One of the things that the doctors and nurses have raised with the health minister—and he has now taken action on—is creating some separate bays that are specifically for children in the emergency department. With the growing number of families in the southern suburbs, that will be very much appreciated by people. 

There are also some associated upgrades as part of this project that include upgrading the areas for recovery from elective surgery and preparation for elective surgery. There is also a move for the renal dialysis service in the Noarlunga Hospital which will enable some of the upgrades to happen, and that is all funded out of the $10 million of this project. 

I also note that, as well as this upgrade, there have been a number of upgrades over previous years at Noarlunga and the associated health campus to improve mental health services. That is a growing area of demand in the south and I think we are going to see more demand for that in the future. As part of the Transforming Health plan, that has clearly been projected as an area to grow at Noarlunga. 

As members will know, and as the member for Chaffey pointed out, originally in the draft plans that were prepared for Transforming Health, there were going to be changes to the emergency department at Noarlunga. In the draft proposal it was to go to the GP Plus Super Clinic across the other side of the car park and become an emergency walk-in clinic. As I have spoken about in the house before, that not only caused significant concern in the community but also amongst doctors and nurses. 

Together with the members from Reynell and Fisher, I worked to prepare a paper and we presented that to the health minister, along with other consultation documents from the community. It is good to see that the emergency department will not be moving as part of the Transforming Health plans and that the current excellent doctors and nurses who work there will be staying. It will stay as a 24-hour seven days a week service at Noarlunga looking after the southern suburbs community. I think that has been well received by people in the south who are much comforted to see that service stay there. 

This upgrade to Noarlunga will be starting in January and will be continuing until the estimated completion date of March 2017. I think it is wise that that has been staggered to ensure as minimal amount of disruption as possible for what is obviously a busy working hospital. Considering that a lot of these upgrades are internal to the hospital, we do need to make sure they are staggered and that hospital work will not be disrupted. 

I congratulate the committee on its report and I look forward to seeing this upgrade go ahead and the services for people in the outer southern suburbs significantly improved, particularly with this extra elective surgery that will be provided at Noarlunga Hospital. 

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