Our say | Not all news is good news for the hospital

BATHURST Base Hospital has had more than its share of headlines over the past week – and what a mixed bag they have been.

Today the Western Advocate reveals the latest Bureau of Health Information has been largely positive for the hospital, confirming a fall in waiting times for many elective surgeries – particularly ear, nose and throat surgeries.

ENT surgeries have been an area of increased focus in recent months in a concerted effort to bring down waiting times that had blown out to more than nine months.

The strategy is clearly paying dividends and Bathurst’s reputation as a hub for orthopaedic surgeries is also continuing to grow.

Waiting times for total hip and knee replacements have actually increased compared to same quarter last year but that is not the bad news you might expect.

The increased waiting time is a result of increased demand for local services as patients from outside the region choose to have their surgery at Bathurst.

There was more good news for the hospital last week when Bathurst MP Paul Toole announced state funding of around $1.2 million to create new car parking spaces on the hospital grounds.

Parking has been the constant bugbear for patients, their families, staff and even nearby residents who have become used to clogged local streets around the hospital.

The new parking area will add around 62 new spaces and while no-one believes those spaces will solve all the problems, they are a big step in the right direction.

But it’s not been all good news after about 150 health Services Union staff walked off the job for four hours last week to protest what they call a culture of “bullying and harassment” – with threats of further strikes to to come if they’re not happy with the hospital’s response to their claims.

While this newspaper stands by its assessment that the HSU had handled the strike badly – giving hospital management and the general public less than 24 hours’ notice of the walkout – such serious claims warrant full investigation.

If they are found to have merit, then hospital management must demand a culture change at the facility.

But the public will be watching closely and will make up its own mind about whether the HSU is going too far.

One thing’s for certain, though – hospital management will be quite happy for the new week to be much quieter than the last.