New Mt Barker Hospital details released as ramping spikes

The state government has released more details about a $220 million new hospital at Mt Barker, as the Opposition warns of a “hospital log jam” and increasing ambulance ramping.

Jan 24, 2023, updated Jan 24, 2023
A render of the proposed new Mt Barker Hospital. Image: SA Government

A render of the proposed new Mt Barker Hospital. Image: SA Government

Premier Peter Malinauskas today announced the new hospital would be built at the existing Mt Barker District Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital site on Wellington Road.

He said it would have 102 beds – 68 more than the current hospital – and would include a mental health unit, as well as rehabilitation, obstetrics and palliative care services.

The new hospital, to be complete by the end of 2027, would also have outpatient and community health facilities, including consulting suites, an allied health gymnasium and telehealth and in-reach services.

“The population in Mt Barker alone is set to double, yet again, by the mid-2030s, so we’ve got to start making these investments thinking about the long-term,” Malinauskas said.

“Today is another big step in the right direction in that regard.”

Render: SA Government

The government said the existing hospital site was chosen as the location for the new hospital following a “rapid site assessment”.

That assessment found that building the hospital at the current site would ensure that the new Mt Barker emergency department, which is due to be complete by June, could be built into the new hospital.

It also found that there could be a staged rollout of new bed capacity and services, rather than waiting for the completion of a new facility on a new site.

The existing hospital would stay open while the new hospital is built, with “enabling works” expected to start by the end of this year.

Health Minister Chris Picton said more than half of people needing health care in the Adelaide Hills have to travel into the city, which increased pressure on metropolitan hospitals and the ambulance service.

“Having that capacity in the Hills for a growing community is absolutely essential,” he said.

“This is an absolute commitment to make sure that as the population of the Hills grows, we can meet those services here.”

The government today released new concept images of the hospital, with the final design to be developed in consultation with the community and clinicians.

It also announced that BreastScreen SA had established a permanent clinic at Mt Barker next to the hospital.

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The clinic will ensure about 9000 eligible women can access breast cancer screening closer to home.

The announcement came as the Opposition accused the government of “delivering a hospital log jam that compromises patient safety”.

SA Health’s emergency department dashboard showed at 2.30 this afternoon, all metropolitan hospitals, except the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, were experiencing “code white” – meaning all their treatment rooms were in use.

Table: SA Health

Government data shows ambulance ramping has increased by 64 per cent over the past year, with statewide ramping hours increasing from 2138 in November 2021 to 3516 in November 2022.

“Peter Malinauskas promised to fix ramping, but all the Labor Government is delivering is a hospital log jam that compromises patient safety,” Deputy Opposition Leader John Gardner said.

“Ramping has never been worse and South Australians have never been at more risk in our hospitals.”

Malinauskas said there was a “long way to go” to address what he described as an ambulance ramping “crisis”.

He said there had been a “massive spike in demand” across global health systems and South Australia “is not immune to those challenges”.

“We always said that it was going to take four years to start to deliver on the results that we want to see,” he said.

“Barely a week goes past when I’m not giving the Health Minister a working over to make sure that plans are on track.”

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