03/10/2014 - 05:42

Cloud cast over $2bn hospital opening

03/10/2014 - 05:42

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As Fiona Stanley hospital opens the Department of Health has launched an international recruitment drive, despite indications that some existing staff are losing their jobs.

As Fiona Stanley hospital opens the Department of Health has launched an international recruitment drive, despite indications that some existing staff are losing their jobs.

The $2 billion Fiona Stanley Hospital will officially open today, marking a significant milestone in the future of the state’s health service, but uncertainty remains over what it means for health workers.

The first patients to move into the new hospital will relocate from the State Rehabilitation Centre in Shenton Park tomorrow, with around 100 expected to be admitted into the new centre at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

The next range of services to open as part of the phased commissioning of Fiona Stanley Hospital will be obstetrics, gynaecology and neonatal, which are services expected to be transferred from Kaleeya Hospital in November.

The emergency department is planned to open in February next year, which will replace emergency services currently provided at Fremantle Hospital.

As part of the Health Department’s reconfiguration of the South Metropolitan Health Service some services provided at Royal Perth Hospital are also being transferred to Fiona Stanley.

That will result in the number of beds at Royal Perth reducing from around 800 to 450, while Fremantle Hospital will reduce from around 380 to 300.

As part of the relocation of the above services a certain number of health staff will also be relocated, however the fate of others has not been determined.

It’s understood that the reduced size of both Fremantle and Royal Perth will result in an oversupply of ‘unneeded’ staff - that’s despite the opening of Fiona Stanley Hospital presenting a need for more healthcare workers, as those roles may not be filled by the staff currently employed at Royal Perth or Fremantle.

Instead, the Health Department has stated it’s developing a 10-year workforce plan which has included the launch of a recruitment drive for staff both across Australia and internationally.

In the department’s annual report it stated that securing an appropriate workforce was a significant issue going forward, as those currently employed did not necessarily match the skills required.

“The expansion in infrastructure and the reconfiguration of health services is generating an increased requirement for specialist experienced nurses and midwives,” the annual report states.

“Health Workforce Australia estimates that by 2025, without improved attraction and retention, WA will face a shortage of over 8,000 nurses.”

That statistic has been announced despite rumours that nurses have recently been made redundant from Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital without an option for redeployment at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

The Health Department has also said that a major challenge is providing enough training opportunities for graduate and novice nurses and midwives to enable an appropriate level of skill in the future workforce.

“While much of the recent workforce focus has been on the acute care setting, more nurses and midwifery resources will be needed in the primary and preventative health areas,” it stated in the annual report.

It said it had launched a range of up-skilling programs for current employees.

The annual report also revealed that despite the cost of providing services increasing by $477 million from 2012-13, it managed to come in under budget.

The target cost for providing services for the year was $7.5 billion but the department managed to come in under budget at $7.4 billion.

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