Critical hospital shortages loom
GENERAL medical bed numbers need to double and emergency beds must treble over the next four years if Hervey Bay Hospital is to avoid being overwhelmed by the region's aging and rapidly growing population.
A confidential report obtained by the Chronicle under a Right to Information application states at least $170 million is needed to rectify serious infrastructure frailties at the hospital by 2026.
The reports also states Queensland Health needs 15 acute mental health beds at the hospital by 2016.
The State Government recently rejected a federal funding deal under which the Gillard government would have built a brand new 18-bed acute mental health facility at Hervey Bay Hospital at a cost of about $20 million.
The State Government said it could not fund the facility's ongoing operation despite being in possession of the report.
The infrastructure planning study, drafted in mid-2010, also stated parking needed to increase from 323 car spaces to 600 by 2026.
Drawing on 2008 data, the report said the estimated resident population of the catchment area was 95,689.
By 2026/27, the population is expected to grow to 139,957, with the highest percentage growth to occur in the 65-and-over age group.
Numbers in this age bracket will increase by 82% to 32,996 persons by 2026/27.
For Hervey Bay and Maryborough hospitals, this projected population growth means:
Overnight bed numbers need to grow from 198 beds in 2010 to 335 beds by 2026/27.
Same day bed numbers must increase from 34 beds in 2010 to 68 beds by 2026/27.
The main increases in same day activity will be for renal dialysis, chemotherapy, general medicine, cardiology, endoscopy, gynaecology and other day surgery services.
Total bed numbers in Hervey Bay Hospital need to grow from the current capacity of 139 beds to 271 beds in 2026/27- an increase of 95%.
Emergency department treatment places need to increase from current capacity of 13 places to 46 places by 2026/27-an increase of 254%.