Shadow Minister for Health Rob Lucas said today the AMA had advised the Government the new RAH will not be big enough and that parts of the existing RAH will need to be kept open until the new RAH can be extended.
This advice is a stunning embarrassment for the Government because it has always claimed the existing RAH would not be required and would be demolished once the new RAH was opened in 2016.
In fact this was a significant issue at the last state election as the Government’s costings supporting a new RAH always relied heavily on the cost savings coming from the complete closure of the existing RAH.
In a letter last week to RAH project director Dr.David Panter the AMA has told the Government:
“It is obvious that the NRAH will not be able to accommodate all the acute services it should to serve South Australia safely and effectively as a tertiary and quaternary centre. I ask that the Government consider transition plans to incorporate the option of the use of parts of the existing RAH until such time as the NRAH can be extended to accommodate the required beds and services.”
It is clear the AMA believe the new RAH does not have enough beds and is not big enough to meet expected needs in 2016 when it opens and that until it can be extended then parts of the existing RAH will need to be maintained.
A number of stakeholders including the AMA have been complaining to the Government for some time about lack of consultation and involvement in relation to the planning for clinical services at the new RAH.
The Government stands condemned for their arrogance and refusal to listen to the views of stakeholders like the AMA.
Under the Weatherill Government deal taxpayers will be paying about $400m per year for 30 years from 2016 just for the non clinical services of the new RAH. The costs for all clinical services such as doctors and nurses will be additional costs to the $400m per year.
If the AMA is correct then there will be a significant further blowout in total costs associated with the decision to build the new RAH.
The Liberal Party will lodge FOI requests this week seeking documents relating to the concerns being expressed about the need to keep open parts of the existing RAH.
The AMA’s letter summarizes their anger and frustration at the refusal to consult-
“We have many members who are now demoralized and disengaged by the lack of clarity about where their professional future lies.”
Minister Snelling must now explain why there has been a refusal to agree to proper consultation and immediately order SA Health officers to commence urgent discussions with the AMA and other key stakeholders.
Mr.Snelling must also indicate what advice he has received about the possible need to keep parts of the existing RAH open after the new RAH has opened.