THE Emergency Department at Busselton Health Campus has been operating at half its capacity due to ongoing maintenance within the hospital, causing mayhem for campus patients and staff.
A source told the Mail black plastic tarpaulin had been draped across the ED with construction workers on one side drilling and cutting, while patients were treated on the other side.
They said ever since the hospital opened in April last year it was rife with defects.
“The first winter that we had, there were water leaks everywhere,” the source said.
“Going into this winter we still have water leaks, we still go round every time it rains to put towels and wet signs out because it leaks everywhere – sometimes out of light fittings. I guess all the ceilings were not up to manufacturer’s standards either, so they are having to reinforce all of the roofs on both levels too.
“It’s like a construction site.”
Exposed wiring, water pressure, faulty pipework and flooring have also been raised as issues.
The source said staff had to constantly relocate patients while the ED area and other wings, including the maternity ward, were being fixed.
They said there was very little communication between WA Country Health Services and staff members at the hospital.
“Nobody has ever stood up and said we’ve got problems here, this is what’s going to happen – we just see it pop up. We don’t actually get told what’s going on.”
United Voice (the hospital workers’ union) secretary Carolyn Smith said the multitude of problems at the hospital was a grave concern for workers and patients.
“People have the right to be safe when in this new hospital,” she said. “It should not have been opened with all of these problems to be fixed.
“Not only is it causing disruptions to patients, but it poses a risk to workers.”
Ms Smith said the Barnett government has been in power for nine years now and they had not been able to deliver a hospital project that had not been plagued with issues from the beginning.
“Their problem is they try to do things on the cheap and in the quickest timeframe possible in an attempt to get some good press,” she said.
“The closures of these wards will be of significant disadvantage to patients and the community, and likely to drag out patient wait times significantly.”
WA Country Health Service South West regional director Kerry Winsor said patients and visitors to Busselton Health Campus had been advised that work was being carried out throughout the hospital.
“Builder Doric Contractors Pty Ltd is undertaking a staged program of works to address a defect related to the installation of ceiling and internal wall panels at the Campus at no cost to WA taxpayers,” she said.
“As with all significant building contracts, a defects correction period follows practical completion to allow for any corrective work to be carried out by the builder responsible, and the new Busselton Health Campus is no exception.”
Doric, the company that built the facility, had a standard 12-month defects liability period on the $120 million hospital.
“As with any major building project, a number of minor issues have been identified at Busselton Health Campus during this period and have been promptly rectified,” a Doric spokesperson said.
“Towards the end of this 12-month defects liability period, an issue was noted with a ceiling suspension system that was installed in certain areas of the hospital.
“In some locations within these areas, certain components of this suspension system do not conform to manufacturer’s instructions and are being replaced.”
Ms Winsor said an independent assessment by a qualified structural engineer had confirmed that the defects did not pose any serious or immediate risk or danger, but rectification was necessary to ensure the full design life of the building.
She said the works program was being staged to minimise disruption to patients and services at the health campus.
“Theatre closures occur routinely in hospitals over the Christmas period to allow for maintenance and the ceiling works were planned during this time to ensure the least possible impact on patients and staff,” she said.
“Inpatients, their families and carers, visitors to the hospital, service providers at the hospital and staff will be kept fully informed about the progress of the works and any likely impact they may have.”