Concerns raised about Bowral and District Hospital

Highlands health authorities have rejected claims the hospital is operating with overworked staff and substandard facilities.

A source working at the hospital has told The Southern Highland News operating theatre nursing staff at the hospital often work “excessive” overtime and recommendations by internal committees including the Reasonable Workload Committee have been ignored.

The News was also told there are less than 20 theatre nurses to staff two theatres all day, seven days a week.

However, Bowral and District Hospital general manager Valerie Jovanovic said staffing was determined using Australian College of Perioperative Nurses Standards.

“Current staffing structures meet the required standards,” she said.

Claims were made that operating theatres do not meet current standards and have not for some time.

But Ms Jovanovic said this was not the case.

“The facilities at Bowral and District Hospital meet the required standards and ongoing risk assessment of potential issues are conducted on a regular basis.

“There are comprehensive cleaning procedures in place.”

Ms Jovanovic said there were 11 permanent staff specialists at the hospital, in response to claims there was just one full-time doctor employed and the rest were Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs).

Concerns were also raised about the number of patients treated who lived outside the Wingecarribee and the impact this had on Highlands patients.

Ms Jovanovic said about 13 per cent of patients on the elective surgery waitlist were out of area.

“Regardless of the patient’s admission status, all doctors use the same facilities, equipment and resources.”

She said the hospital was meeting the national Elective Survey target indicators.

The hospital source claimed VMOs were able to take advantage of the public health system, its facilities and staff  to maximise benefits to themselves, rather than reduce patient waiting times.

In response, Ms Jovanovic said the appointment of doctors through NSW Health was regulated by legislation and policy.

“Doctors can be employed as staff specialists on a full-time basis or engaged under contracts as Visiting Medical Officers.”