Hot-bedding, rushed operations at Tweed Hospital
THE Tweed Hospital is at such critical capacity up to three patients can move through a single bed in one day, and surgeons are forced to rush through operations in one hour instead of two.
Dr Stephen White, a senior colorectal surgeon of 20 years, said 'hot-bedding' allowed many to be treated, but forced bowel surgery patients out of hospital before they saw chemo or stoma therapists.
"The cramped quarters and the lack of beds means people are in and out on day four or five ... two to three days earlier," Dr White said.
"They're sent home when the hospital needs a bed.
"I've seen three separate people admitted into the same bed in one day."
To remedy the problem, a redevelopment plan was made in 2013 and determined stage one - a doubling of operating theatres and extra beds in all wards - was to be completed by 2017.
This proposed plan was presented to the Health Minister Jillian Skinner in November 2013.
Recently, the Minister said expansions to Lismore and a new Byron hospital had priority over Tweed.
She said Tweed would be considered for capital works funding during budget time.
This week a spokesperson for the Minister said this would be done "in the context of an election".
Senior clinicians said that's just not good enough, warning the hospital was at breaking point.
Dr White said that six years ago he was "doing all the bowel cancers" by himself in one operating theatre.
Today three colorectal surgeons share that theatre and the number of patients is increasing 8% annually, with a growing and population.
He said statistics on Tweed's efficiency, such as length of stay (3.6 days versus Lismore's 4.3) to delay the redevelopment, was not in the interest of the community.
"Just because I can do the operation in an hour and you can be home in two days, it doesn't mean you're getting optimal care.
"It's a training hospital, it should have taken two hours and a trainee should have done one hour of it, and the patient should have stayed five days, instead of being on their own."