Fairfield Hospital

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT ( Prospect ) ( 15:51 ): I draw the attention of the House to Fairfield Hospital, its fantastic staff and its support services. It is one of the most outstanding small hospitals in metropolitan Sydney, and services people to the south of the electorate of Prospect and the electorates of Fairfield, Mulgoa and Cabramatta. That is a large area to service. The hospital has 220 beds, and as such is classified as a B1 health facility. It services some 32,000 local residents, and staff perform 7,000 surgical procedures and deliver 1,800 babies each year. In addition, the hospital deals with 34,000 emergency department presentations, which is a significant number for such a small hospital. It also deals with more than 200,000 outpatient presentations.

The 882 staff at Fairfield Hospital are wonderful, and include 520 nurses, 70 supporting medical staff, and 15 imaging staff. The hospital is an integral part of the local area and wider Western Sydney. It provides services in acute care, medicine, cardiology, surgery, orthopaedics, obstetrics, paediatrics, and emergency medicine as required. It also offers subacute, geriatric and rehabilitation services through the Ambulatory Care Unit in the association with Fairfield Community Health Services and the Renal Dialysis Unit. The hospital provides level 4 clinical services as defined by the NSW Health Guide to the Role Delineation of Clinical Services, and level 3 maternity and neonatal services, supported by the obstetrics service located at Liverpool Hospital. It also offers level 3 paediatric services.

Fairfield Hospital is outstanding because it has below average waiting times in its emergency department compared to other hospitals in New South Wales. It also has a below average incidence of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infections, which are referred to as "hospital superbug" infections. It is also exceeding targets in hand sanitation, and is also more efficient than average cost-wise because its national weighted activity unit cost is only $4,000. That is amazing. The hospital also offers specialist services at the Whitlam Joint Replacement Centre and the dedicated South West Sydney Hand Unit, which was opened in 2013 but which unfortunately is housed in demountable buildings.

The master plan for this hospital was approved prior to the 2015 election, but nothing has been done since. Building at the hospital has not moved forward and in the past two budgets no funding has been provided for the required capital works. Unlike Nepean Hospital, which needs more than $200 million, Fairfield Hospital needs only $6 million. Tens of thousands more people will be coming into the health system in the Fairfield area over the next five to 10 years. Six million dollars would bring Fairfield Hospital to a stage where it could provide for the future growth in that area.

The priorities that have been identified in the operational plan have been aged care, complex care and internal medicine, medical imaging, enhancing surgical specialities and, in particular, women's health to ensure that mothers in the Fairfield area can access midwifery models of care and general practice care in a timely manner. Sadly, because of underinvestment in this hospital—because the Government has not spent the $6 million required—there have been more and more problems in regard to patient care.

In December 2015 two confirmed deaths in the Fairfield hospital maternity ward were identified as due to under-resourcing—not negligence by staff but under-resourcing. The local health district board admitted concerns were raised by the Clinical Excellence Commission and, as part of the review, trainee registrars have been approved to be the second on call in response to understaffing. Unless money is spent on this hospital I have serious concerns that there will be more deaths. People in the area have considered this hospital to be superior, but now they are starting to doubt that. I request that the Minister spend the $6 million required and come clean and be transparent about the processes in that hospital.

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