26 Jan 2024

But its management says new efficiency measures have minimised the impact of the extra workload on employees.
The figure represents an 18 per cent rise at a hospital already identified as undersized andunderresourced, relative to the population it services.
Mildura Base Public Hospital chief executive Terry Welch told Sunraysia Daily that improved planning and resource allocation had reduced the average length of stay for patients by half a day, which had effectively meant a gain of 15 beds a day.
A care co-ordinator had also been appointed to the emergency department, which continues to be a pressure point and which is now handling an average of six patients more per day than it was a year ago.
Mr Welch said that during an eight-week trial, 20 per cent of more than 600 patients seen by that co-ordinator had been diverted to more appropriate services.
Other reorganisation measures in the ED had improved flow for ambulance and high acuity patients.
“Some people are still in the ED too long, and we openly acknowledge that, but that comes back to capacity,” Mr Welch said.
“We know that our ED is half the size it needs to be.”
Mr Welch says the hospital, which has been at the centre of political debate over its size and resources for years, is coping with the extra workload because of the efforts of staff to increase efficiency on the basis of making sure patients were receiving “the right care in the right place at the right time”.
“We are able to see more people, more effectively and more efficiently, with some tremendous outcomes, because of the work of our team,” he said.
Mr Welch praised the dedication of that 1250 strong team, which he said had an industry low staff turnover.
“Our turnover rate per quarter is 1.9 per cent and the industry is running at 15 per cent plus,” he said.
The hospital has recently had to deal with the resignations of two orthopaedic surgeons, but Chief Medical Officer Louise Litten said this would not adversely affect patients.
“The community of the Northern Mallee should be assured we have put appropriate measures in place to cover any shortfall left by these resignations,” she said.
“We would like to thank both surgeons for their service and we wish them all the best in the future.”
Mr Welch said the reasons behind the rise in patient numbers were not easily identifiable, but it was clear oncology services had been facing record demand in recent months.
This had possibly been at least partly attributable to better detection and intervention technologies.
Part of the hospital’s increased workload could also be put down to a continuing growth in Sunraysia’s birth rate, and there had been 791 births in 2023.