Stop-gap to help Tweed Hospital 'chaos'
TEMPORARY buildings are finally being installed at The Tweed Hospital as doctors complain of "chaos” at the over-crowded facility.
Cranes moved on site in the hospital's rear carpark last week, with the first of the temporary "modules” transferred from Lismore, in what is expected to become a new in-patient area by mid-next year.
Hospital staff have lobbied hard for the additional space, arguing it is essential as a stop-gap measure to ensure they are able to cope with their burgeoning workload while the new greenfield Tweed Valley Hospital is built.
Tweed MP Geoff Provest said he was pleased to see the cranes finally move in.
"This is the beginning: it is great to see the module on site because it is actually a reality happening,” Mr Provest said.
"Health Infrastructure has been working hard to deliver. This is in response to the fact it is going to take a number of years to finish the new hospital and in that time this hospital will be reaching near capacity. Part of our commitment was not only the new hospital but it was also future-proofing the existing hospital for the next few years.”
But Intensive Care Unit director Dr Mike Lindley-Jones, who co-chairs the Tweed Hospital Medical Staff Council, said while the modules were welcome, more facilities and staff were urgently needed.
"We just need any help we can get to give us more capacity,” Dr Lindley-Jones said.
"For the last several months we have been absolutely full, there have been queues in the Emergency Department in the hospital, patients have had to be discharged early - it is virtually in chaos.
"I have never worked in a hospital that has struggled so badly as Tweed is struggling at the moment.
"Credit to all the staff for making it work but it becomes inefficient when beds are difficult to come by.”
Dr Lindley-Jones said additional modules were urgently needed for more operating theatres and expanded oncology, intensive care and emergency departments as well as staff to man them.
"It's all very well having the infrastructure and it's a good start, but we need to be appropriately staffed,” he said.
Health Infrastructure is consulting with clinicians as to the exact use of the module, with the potential for additional modules - including temporary operating theatres - to be installed.
"The beautiful thing about these modules is they can be adapted and there is a potential in the future to have modular operating theatres as well,” Mr Provest said.
"But that is up to the clinicians and Medical Council here. Once this is fitted out it will feel inside like a contemporary hospital environment.”
Mr Provest said the new modules would be funded by the $48 million promised by the NSW Government to upgrade Stage 1 of the hospital - on top of the $534 million committed to the new hospital.
Meanwhile, plans for the new Tweed Valley Hospital are advancing, with NSW Health expected to announce its location before Christmas.
It is understood the location has been narrowed down to three sites out of more than 20 expressions of interests lodged.
The new site will be eight to 16ha in size - double the existing hospital - and open within five years.
It is envisioned the hospital will work closely with local universities, including SCU, Bond and Griffith - to provide a strong tertiary pathway for aspiring doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.