Margaret River Hospital upgrade flagged

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
VideoThe WA government says it wants to move towards more community-based mental health care.

Margaret River Hospital may be in line for a significant upgrade thanks to a WA Health Department review.

Hospital staff and users have reported an increase in admissions in recent years, with local GP Shaun O’Rourke saying more nurses are needed, particularly during peak times.

With tourism and visitors placing additional strain on services during peak times, Dr O’Rourke said the hospital’s emergency department would welcome a major expansion.

“There’s a suggestion they may be doing some additional building,” he told the Times.

“One of the options would be to build another emergency department towards the Silver Chain buildings.”

Doctors were on call for Margaret River, but in the past few years they had been stationed in emergency almost full-time because of the demand, Dr O’Rourke said.

Nurses were also under increased pressure, he said, with the emergency department sometimes “gridlocked” and nurses caught up with paperwork.

“I’d like to see more nursing hours, a CT scanner would be nice, mostly because people who gets bangs on heads have to travel up and down — and also more theatre access would be nice,” Dr O’Rourke said.

Last year, the Times reported the hospital’s surgical theatre had ceased some treatment due to faults in air-conditioning that remain unaddressed.

“The current emergency department structure in Margaret River is not ideal,” Dr O’Rourke said.

“We need another consulting room.” A busy emergency ward meant less privacy, and Margaret River’s ED was “tiny” compared to other hospitals, he said.

A WA Country Health Service spokeswoman said the Margaret River Hospital had recently been part of a scheduled service review which the Times understands has now concluded.

“The scope includes infrastructure requirements and planning for now and into the future,” the spokeswoman said.

“Any future redevelopment would be subject to a business case — a guideline that applies to all investment proposals, including capital works — across State Government.

“While WACHS has seen a modest increase in emergency department presentations at Margaret River Hospital across the last 12 months, the organisation regularly undertakes population planning and responds appropriately during peak periods and times of demand.”

Presentations at Margaret River have increased from slightly more than 7000 cases in 2016-17 to 7341 in 2017-18, while Augusta Hospital cases have grown by 10 per cent from 1056 to 1171.

Warren-Blackwood MLA Terry Redman said he hoped any instances in which patients experienced staffing shortages would be addressed under the review.

“It’s a risk in those communities where you have those big service populations that drive demand beyond the baseline,” he said.

Dr O’Rourke said midwifery services was one area in decline at Margaret River as more women sought treatment at Busselton Hospital, which was subject to more recent upgrades.

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