Tuesday 4th September 2007

Bed Closures at the Beaconsfield Community Hospital

Mr FINCH (Question) - My question is to the honourable Leader, and is in three parts.

1. Firstly, will the Leader, through the Minister for Health and Human Services, give an assurance to the West Tamar public that the Government is committed to keeping all beds open at the Beaconsfield Community Hospital?

2. Secondly, can the minister also give an assurance that the review of services at the hospital will be completed urgently?

3. Thirdly, can the minister also explain how the future of the Beaconsfield Community Hospital fits into the present review of primary and acute health care services in Tasmania?

Mr PARKINSON - I thank the honourable member for his question and for conforming with the normal practice in this House.

Firstly, yes. Secondly, we expect a review to be completed by the end of September. Thirdly, the Primary Health Plan was released in May of this year. The PHP confirms the role of the Beaconsfield multipurpose service is a tier 2 service and this is a site which provides rural in-patient services; there is no ongoing review of the role of the Beaconsfield multipurpose centre; the current review is an essential part of any health-care service; there is a safety and quality review following a clinical incident which identified the need to assess the quality of clinical care at the site; and there is no hidden agenda to close beds.

Mr President, the minister has also released the following statement about this matter and it will not take me long to read this. The Minister for Health and Human Services said today the review of clinical services at the Beaconsfield district health service was driven by real concerns about ensuring appropriate standards of care for patients and residents. Ms Giddings said that while a draft report had been prepared, there was still significant work to be undertaken to finalise the review. Other than giving the background to the situation, it was inappropriate to speculate further on the outcomes of the review. She said:
'I reject absolutely any suggestion that the current process was determined by any hidden objective of closing beds'.

She continued:
'The review was precipitated by a serious incident report which outlined concerns about the treatment of a terminally ill patient who died in the LGH after being transferred from Beaconsfield.
This initiated a formal quality and safety process similar to that undertaken in the major hospitals by mortality and morbidity review committees.
This is in line with normal practice.'
Ms Giddings said the process included a file audit of other recent Beaconsfield patients to see if there were other issues of concern. She said:
'There was sufficient cause for a suspension of admissions for the sub-acute beds and to conduct a formal review of our clinical and patient care processes across the whole facility.

The inclusion of both the residential aged care beds and the sub-acute beds was necessary because the beds are used flexibly and patients transfer across the categories.'

Ms Giddings said the department was actively looking at solutions that can resolve these issues.
'We are committing extra nursing resources to Beaconsfield to enable this process to happen as soon as possible.
This process is not about reducing bed numbers.
It is about ensuring that quality and safety of care is appropriate'.