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SA releases major new health plan

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Adelaide’s Repatriation General Hospital will be closed and emergency departments at three hospitals will become “super-sites” under a major new health plan released by the South Australian government.

The emergency departments at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Lyell McEwin in the city’s north, and Flinders Medical Centre in the south will be staffed by senior staff at all times.

Noarlunga Hospital will no longer take ambulance emergency patients but a walk-in emergency clinic will be established and it will become the statewide centre for single-day elective surgery.

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Premier Jay Weatherill released the Transforming Health consultation paper on Tuesday, saying it was the biggest change to the state’s health system ever undertaken.

Rehabilitation services will be moved from the Repatriation General Hospital, Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre and St Margaret’s Rehabilitation Hospital and be integrated into the major hospitals.

Under the plans, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Modbury Hospital will no longer treat life-threatening emergency patients. They will go directly to one of the three sites with 24/7 specialist care.

Health Minister Jack Snelling, who was flanked by nine clinicians at the media conference, said over the past nine months he had listened to SA’s healthcare professionals about how the system could work better.

They came up with 282 clinical standards, of which about 50 would require changes to the way the health system was configured.

While some proposals would be difficult for people to accept, he said they came from professionals who worked in the health system, day in and day out.

“While our system is very good, we are not consistent in that excellence.”

The plans include an investigation into bringing forward the building of a new Women’s and Children’s Hospital on the site of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, due to open in 2016.

Mr Snelling said many of the services currently provided at the Repatriation General Hospital were in old and outdated facilities.

Oncologist and clinical ambassador of the Transforming Health paper, Professor Dorothy Keefe, said the plans were about providing the “best care, first time, every time, and it is all about the patient”.

“We need to change the way we do things. We need to re-configure our health sites. We need to work in new and different ways.”

The public can provide feedback on the proposals by February 27.

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