Doubt hangs over future of intensive care specialists

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Board chairman Dominic Devine.
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Board chairman Dominic Devine. Simon Young

ALTHOUGH the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service has rejected claims that the Hervey Hospital intensive care unit will close, the future of intensive care specialists there is still in doubt.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health board chairman Dominic Devine described reports that the ICU would close by the end of February and 10 nursing jobs would go as "irresponsible scare- mongering".

He said an intensive care unit was vital in a growing region such as the Fraser Coast and there had never been any plan to close the facility at Hervey Bay Hospital.

"I give a guarantee to the people of Wide Bay and the Fraser Coast in particular that there has never been any thought of closing the Hervey Bay ICU," Mr Devine said.

"We are obviously dismayed false rumours have been published and regret the anxiety it has caused but the ICU's continued operation will be the best evidence of where the truth lies in the matter."

ICU staffers phoned the Chronicle on Friday after they were told the unit would revert to a previous structure, leaving the unit without ICU specialists.

Mr Devine said on Sunday that for the past year, a new structure had been on trial in the Bay Hospital ICU.

"The overall performance of the unit has been subject to ongoing review as a normal part of health service management," he said.

WBHHS chief executive Adrian Pennington said on Sunday "the skill mix of specialists who work in the ICU may change over time" but "both Hervey Bay and Bundaberg are accredited level 4 ICUs and will remain so".

Mr Pennington said dangerously ill patients could be stabilised in a hospital with that accreditation level before being flown to a major metropolitan centre.

Mr Devine said: "Our first concern has been to reassure WBHHS staff and their families that these reports of the ICU closure are completely without foundation.

"Now we have to try to reach out to the community and reassure the people of Wide Bay that their ICU at Hervey Bay Hospital is safe."

Topics:  wbhhs

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