In the last few days, there has been a series of news media stories that relate to Dubbo Health Service.
I want to be clear from the outset - no health service is perfect; no doctor, nurse, allied health professional, cook, orderly or manager is perfect. When a person comes to any of our hospitals, they want to receive the best care, advice and support. I guarantee you that for all of us who work in health that's exactly what we go to work every day wanting to deliver. In truth, the vast majority of people have a good experience with our hospitals and health services. They are looked after well in terms of both their clinical and personal needs. They understand what's happening, and why. They feel taken care of.
Nowhere is that more true than at Dubbo Health Service. In this city you have an amazing team of healthcare professionals in a service that is growing in size and complexity every day. Ten years ago, it would be difficult to imagine Dubbo Health Service as it is now. From 2010 to 2019 the number of patients admitted has grown by 46%; the number of elective surgeries performed by 38% and since 2011 the numbers using the emergency department have increased by 122%, including a 68% increase in the more complex resuscitation and emergency categories. In response to that, Dubbo Health Service's budget has grown by 90% to more than $125 million, and hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into the wholesale redevelopment.
As impressive as those numbers are, sometimes we don't get it right. When that happens, we take it very seriously. The effort your healthcare team at Dubbo puts into being accountable and improving is as purposeful and as thorough as you would find in any hospital, regardless of which side of the Blue Mountains it lies. There is a direct line of sight from the Board to the ward that is constantly looking to see that we are getting it right, and improving where we need to.
Here are some important facts for you to know that may not have been translated into some other media reports.
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Last year it was found that an electronic record of diagnostic reports - for instance, reports written by specialist radiologists about x-rays - wasn't being used properly. This didn't mean that doctors weren't looking at x-rays or other diagnostic tests, but it did mean that improvements needed to be made. That's what happened. Straight away a new system was implemented to prioritise reports made for children. Since then, an even more comprehensive system was introduced to make sure that every single report in the ED is acted on by a senior doctor, every single day. No staff were disciplined or sanctioned as a result of that situation being uncovered. We work hard to make sure that there is a respectful culture of safety between all members of the clinical team, no matter how experienced or how new. It is that culture of respectful teamwork, clinical safety and open enquiry that we are absolutely zealous to protect.
In spite of the details that can be included by others in media reports, I have an obligation to patient and staff confidentiality and can't comment on specific cases no matter how much I might like to. I can assure you, though, that we are working with patients and families all the time to be open about their experiences, and to involve them in the process of making improvements.
Dubbo is where I live. It's hospital where I and my family go when we need hospital level care. I have no hesitation trusting myself and my loved ones to the skills, expertise, enquiring minds and caring hearts of those who work there. That is not a trust easily given, but it is one that day after day the staff at Dubbo Hospital are showing me that they deserve.
Acting Chief Executive
Western NSW Local Health District
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