Westmead Hospital slammed by Sydney patients

Date: Dec 29, 2014

Westmead Hospital has received negative scores across a variety of measures in a new patient survey, indicating the facility is lagging behind other health care providers in NSW.

The Bureau of Health Information (BHI) study, which questioned 35,000 people admitted to the state’s hospitals between January and December 2013, revealed patients were unhappy with services across half of the 22 measures.

According to the Daily Telegraph, opposition health spokesman Walt Secord said Westmead received a disproportionate amount of criticism. However, he added it is not surprising Western Sydney patients are concerned about care quality.

“Doctors, nurses and other hospital staff are being worked off their feet due to the Abbott and Baird cuts,” he explained.

“Health bureaucrats are on the backs of nurses urging them to discharge patients to free up beds – particularly in maternity wards – to meet the Liberal-National state government’s requirements.”

Medical negligence risks

Any time a hospital falls below accepted standards, there is a risk of medical negligence claims rising. This is particularly true if facilities are understaffed and underfunded.

The BHI study examined a number of key factors, including hospitals’ responsiveness to demands, level of patient involvement in decision-making, cleanliness of wards and the politeness of medical practitioners.

Despite the failings of Westmead, BHI said most patients are generally satisfied with the level of care they receive from NSW hospitals. However, Chief Executive Dr Jean-Frederic Levesque admitted there were significant variations depending on hospital location and size.

“Results are good overall but for some aspects of integration there is still room for improvement. The percentage of patients giving top marks to their hospital ranged from 54 to 91 per cent,” he commented.

Westmead undergoing transformation

Health Minister Jillian Skinner told the Daily Telegraph that Westmead is an iconic facility, but claimed it needed updating to meet modern standards.

As such, the hospital will be undergoing a $400 million redevelopment, which will start with the demolition of an old administration building at the site.

Among the changes planned under the first phase of development are a new acute services wing and emergency department, more intensive care beds, up to 14 operating theatres and additional parking.

“The concept plan will be finalised in mid-2015 and the project team will continue to consult with hospital and precinct stakeholders,” Ms Skinner said.

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