It?s not good enough
By TOBY WALKER
GRAFTON Base Hospital is in danger of losing its accreditation with one of Australia's leading health care authorities after failing to meet health care standards set by its independent assessors.
Last Wednesday a survey team from the Australian Council of Healthcare Standards (ACHS) began a three-day evaluation of the service quality provided by the hospital to its patients.
The survey found the hospital lacked vital equipment and infrastructure, specifically highlighting the need for an on-site CT scanner to treat critically-ill patients and trauma victims.
It will be several weeks before the survey report is finalised, but in the interim hospital management has been given a high priority recommendation to address the situation within 60 days.
Yesterday, North Coast Area Health Service administrator Chris Crawford said expressions of interest from private radiology firms had been sought to establish an on-site location that could house the CT scanner and its associated infrastructure. A NCAHS spokesperson expanded on that, advising an action plan would be developed within 60 days to advance the tender process in order to meet the accreditation requirements.
If the facilities are still judged to be inadequate after 60 days, the hospital would almost likely fail the accreditation process.
Failing the accreditation would not directly impact on the day-to-day running of the hospital, but would mean the NCAHS 'would still continue to provide trauma services that are considered sub-standard', said chairman of the hospital's medical staff council, Dr Allan Tyson.
Dr Tyson believed the NCAHS had been too slow in attracting the vital infrastructure to the hospital.
"It's not good enough that the NCAHS has let it get to this stage," he said.
"They say they've got some process in place now, but it seems that the survey team still felt that was not adequate enough to provide the accreditation."
His colleague, head of the hospital's medical quality committee, Dr Andrew Terrey, said requests for a CT scanner had repeatedly been made to the NCAHS in recent years, with news of the problem even reaching the desk of the soon-to-be NSW premier and current health minister, Morris Iemma.
Dr Terrey said the current arrangements, which required patients to undergo cat scans at an outsourced clinic, were insufficient and, in some cases, dangerous for a patient's health because it meant they had to be transported to the clinic from their hospital bed.