Canberra hospital approaching the national average!

johnboy 28 January 2011 1

Chief Minister Stanhope is very excited that ACT Health is approaching mediocrity when it comes to hospital bed numbers:

“The Productivity Commission report shows ACT public hospitals equalled the major city average for number of beds per 1,000 people in 2008-09 of 2.5 beds. This was a marked improvement on the 2004-05 figure of 2.1 beds and approaching the overall national average of 2.6.

“This was achieved by the boost in the number of public hospital beds available at Canberra hospitals, up from 785 in 2006-07 to 875 in 2008-09, a much bigger jump than was reported nationally.

Of course a bed, of itself, can be picked up at a furniture store for a couple of hundred dollars. So it’s a pretty crude metric.

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One Response to Canberra hospital approaching the national average!
emd emd 11:35 am 28 Jan 11

One would assume that open bed numbers are in large part about having enough staff to meet demand.
Having read the media release, this is an interesting figure:
Access to elective surgery also improved; 10,104 people accessed elective surgery in the in 2008-09, up from 9,577 in 2007-08, the sixth year in a row the ACT has achieved record levels of access.

Elective surgery figures include elective caesareans. Elective means any planned caesarean that is not a life-or-death emergency, of which the vast majority – based on ANU medical school research by a Canberra obstetrician – are agreed to by the mother based on her doctor’s recommendation for the health of baby and/or mother.

WHO recommendations are that caesarean rates above 10-15% mean that some women are having major abdominal surgery (with the 5x increased risk of babies born with breathing difficulties, and the 6x increased risk of maternal mortality) without a medical need. The rates of caesarean surgeries at Canberra’s hospitals range from under 10% (Canberra Birth Centre) to 23% (Canberra Hospital including the Birth Centre bringing down their average) to over 30% (Calvary John James).

If TCH’s increased elective surgery rate excluded caesareans, it would be something to celebrate. However, we know that elective caesarean rates around Australia continue to rise. The last released figures on the ACT Health website for maternal and perinatal health date back to 2005, so there is no way for Canberra healthcare consumers to access up-to-date, accurate information about what is happening in Canberra’s hospitals. During the independent review of Canberra’s maternity unit last year, the report noted that there is not enough information made available to consumers about maternal health stats, or enough maternal health consumer representation on TCH’s consumer committees. I don’t see Stanhope doing anything about that, despite all the trumpeting about how much has been spent. If they could get some of these maternal health policies right, they could free up beds for elective surgery and reduce costs at the same time. Not to mention be in closer compliance with UN standards on maternal healthcare.

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