The need for dialysis services in the Highlands is only getting stronger, and short-term solutions for a renal unit are being discussed.
Southern Highlands Renal Appeal chairman Bob Barrett met with South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) and Bowral and District Hospital staff on March 1 to discuss short-term options for dialysis patients in the Southern Highlands.
In November 2017, SWSLHD said a renal unit would be built at the hospital in conjunction with the current hospital redevelopment.
However, after reports from the district, Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Goulburn MP Pru Goward, the unit may not be created until after the redevelopment finishes in 2021.
The recent meeting discussed options that could prevent dialysis patients having to travel to and from Campbelltown, Liverpool or Fairfield for treatment.
The first solution raised by staff was to upgrade and staff the “existing” facility, according to Mr Barrett.
“This solution requires new machines as the existing ones are old; new recliner chairs because the one supplied has been “relocated”, Mr Barrett said.
“There was concern that the space may be too small because of increased use of the short stay ward.”
The discussion highlighted that if the unit were to open six days per week for two shifts per day, two nurses would be needed at each shift.
This arrangement would provide services for four patients per week.
The second solution raised the idea of setting up the service in a larger space within the hospital precinct.
Mr Barrett said a number of possible spaces were considered and a walk-through of spaces also took place.
“It was discussed that this solution could handle a larger number of patients with similar staff levels as in solution one,” Mr Barrett said.
The third option proposed contracting a private provider to develop renal services in the area.
It was suggested this would be a six-chair unit.
Mr Barrett said this solution had the advantage of a fast set-up, however there would be a downside.
“It would not be cost effective for the provider as the unit would only be required for two to three years and at least seven years would be a better investment,” he said.
Despite not deciding on a solution at this meeting, Mr Barrett was satisfied with the discussions.
“I was very pleased to find the effort going into finding a short-term solution and am confident that one will be found,” he said.
Mr Barrett will meet with the hospital and district staff again on April 5 to further discuss the options.