Hospitals across Australia in crisis

Across Australia there appears to be a critical situation developing in some of the country's hospitals which is forcing doctors to speak out.

The crisis situation at Dubbo Base Hospital, in the central-west of New South Wales, has according to one doctor led to many medical professionals not being paid.

Dr. Dean Fisher, the chairman of the medical staff council at the hospital, has confirmed that funding problems have meant that many medical professionals have had to wait weeks and sometimes months to be paid for routine work and this has also affected other hospitals in the central-west.

In recent weeks there have been reports in the media of hospitals in the area running out of morphine, syringes and meat and fruit due to problems managing cashflow, which has resulted in suppliers cutting off supplies.

These reports have not been denied and while the issue has apparently now been addressed, it is a concern to the public that such a situation can be allowed to develop in the first place and reach such a level before action is taken.

NSW Health Minister, John Della Bosca, says he is working to improve the cashflow problems in the Greater Western Area Health service (GWAHS), and he is now seeking better collaboration between clinicians and management so that such breakdowns are not repeated.

One of those owed money by the GWAHS, Heartland Security, had threatened to stop protecting nurses at Parkes Hospital if its outstanding bill was not paid - they were paid $6,000 overnight but at one stage were owed $10,000 and are concerned that the same could happen again.

The GWAHS is responsible for around 50 hospitals in the state's west and reportedly owes approximately $23 million to about 6,500 creditors.

Things are no better in the west with doctors saying the Emergency Department at the Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) is struggling to cope because of overcrowding and a shortage of beds.

The Emergency Department at RPH was placed on a code yellow alert this week as more than 50 inpatients waited for beds - the Australian Medical Association (AMA) says a Code Yellow means the emergency department was unable to function.

The AMA's Vice President, Dr. Dave Mountain, says a Code Yellow equates to an internal disaster code, which means there is an area of the hospital that has become dysfunctional.

Dr. Mountain says when there is a surge in demand there is no spare capacity in the health system to deal with that demand.

Also under pressure was the emergency department at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital with no beds available for patients arriving in ambulances.

The West Australia Health Minister, Kim Hames, says an expanded emergency department at Armadale Hospital will ease the pressure on the major metropolitan hospitals - $9.4 million has been spent by the government upgrading the Armdale hospital and Dr. Hames says it will allow people to access health care closer to home and take some of the pressure off tertiary hospitals.

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