Gosford Hospital intensive care capacity questioned

NSW Labor has called on the State Government to outline how it will safely staff an expected increase in ICU cases, with hospitalisations due to COVID-19 expected to peak in October and more patients likely to be redirected from Sydney hospitals to Gosford.

Shadow Minister for Health, Ryan Park, said that given the concerns raised by nurses and health care workers on the frontline it was critical for the Government to outline how it will be able to safely staff additional ICU beds should they be needed.

Central Coast Local Health District (CCLHD) says it is prepared.

A CCLHD spokesperson said Gosford Hospital is currently caring for a number of COVID patients, some of whom have been transferred from out of area as part of NSW Health’s networked hospital system.

“This system ensures patients can be transferred or redirected to other hospitals where necessary, including private hospitals,” the spokesperson said.

“Strict plans and protocols are in place for staff who care for patients with COVID-19, including treating them in separate areas with separate staff where possible to minimise the risk of transmission, including in the ICU.

“COVID preparedness modelling released by NSW Health has indicated that the demand on hospitals will be at its highest in October.

“Hospitals and staff in NSW are among the best placed in the world to manage the ongoing challenges of this pandemic, but we acknowledge the Delta variant is placing a strain on the system.”

Park said modelling released by the Burnet Institute clearly outlined that mid-October is the time when we are likely to see the biggest strain on our hospitals.

“The community has a right to know how they will be safely staffed during this period,” he said.

“It’s time the Government outline the plans (it has) to access additional staff to adequately care for the expected increase in patients.

“(The Premier has said) that case numbers (will) ‘go through the roof’ as we began to open up and whilst we understand additional beds will be available what is critical now is the plan to adequately and safely staff them going forward.”

The CCLHD spokesperson said there is currently sufficient ICU capacity in NSW public hospitals but to reduce hospital and ICU admissions and deaths among adults, vaccination on a national scale is essential.

“Central Coast Local Health District has well developed workforce surge and demand management plans in place to ensure we have capacity to care for COVID-19 patients who need to be hospitalised,” the spokesperson said.

“We also have teams in the community who can support people with COVID-19 who do not require hospital care.”

Terry Collins