Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital failed the Medical Education Accreditation Report

A major Adelaide hospital has failed to meet training standards for doctors in its ICU, the medical board that approves ICU training has found.

The College of Intensive Care Medicine, which oversees hospital accreditation to train junior intensive care physicians, said it visited the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in October.

It noted what it described as “significant concerns” including “exhausted staff” who were overworked, medicines stored in accessible areas, no private spaces for difficult family conversations, inadequate bathroom facilities for female staff and poor facilities for parents.

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The College of Intensive Care Medicine found that trainee doctors in the intensive care unit at Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital were working overtime and were exhausted. Recognition: 7NEWS

“The registrar’s job is so busy that there is often no time to write medical notes, let alone time to think and study,” CICM said in a letter to hospital officials.

“Given the roster of just five people, that means vacation is very difficult to access or unavailable. This leaves overtime the only option to cover vacation time.”

The letter said that training for the group of junior doctors would be approved next year, but CICM would “remain in close contact with these trainees to ensure their well-being and overall training is not significantly compromised”.

Lindsey Gough, chief executive of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, said the result was disappointing for the hospital and a further inspection would be carried out before accreditation was approved for 2024.

She said the hospital was previously aware of some issues but expected most of them to be resolved by a move to new premises – which has now been delayed by almost a decade.

Gough emphasized that the CICM report does not reflect patient care.

“This is not an accreditation process or a patient care report, there has been no comment on the level or quality of care we provide … and no reflection on the commitment of the staff delivering the care,” she said.

A new women’s and children’s hospital is due to be completed in the next decade. Recognition: delivered

“Because we had a very high demand, the juniors cared for our patients on the ward and did not have enough time to complete their training.”

She said the hospital is working with the chief of intensive care to improve staffing and other infrastructure-related issues.

The new women’s and children’s hospital is expected to be 25 percent larger than the current site, which should address many of the issues identified in the CICM report. Recognition: delivered

The previous state government announced in 2018 that it would build a new WCH hospital with the expectation that the hospital would move to the new site in 2024. This has since been pushed back to 2030-31.

Gough said previous accreditation surveys had identified issues with the hospital but these have yet to be addressed as they would be resolved with the move to the new site.

“The reason the work hasn’t been done to date is because we thought we were moving much sooner than we actually are,” she said.

Health Secretary Chris Picton said the result was worrying and the hospital was expected to come up with a plan within two weeks to address the concerns raised.

He said that with South Australia’s healthcare system already under pressure from staff shortages, the state could not afford to see junior pediatric critical care specialists being trained elsewhere.

“We can’t have this situation,” he told ABC Radio.

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James Brien

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