Parliament: Questions Kelly's Asked

Staffing at the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Health questions about staffing at the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre.

Leave granted.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: An article in InDaily last week outlined issues with recruitment and retention of suitably qualified rehabilitation specialists at the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre. Recently I have become aware that patients of Hampstead have been telephoned and advised that appointments they had scheduled for December this year and January of next year have been cancelled. My questions are:

  1. How many patients have been advised that their clinic appointments have been cancelled, and can more expect to be notified?
  2. Have patients been advised of when these are likely to be rescheduled and which doctor they will be seen by?
  3. Were any queries raised about the suitability of specialist rehabilitation candidates during the recruitment process?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Health, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse): I thank the honourable member for her question. Clinicians at the Hampstead Rehabilitation Centre did take action on 31 October this year. That was as a result of the return of Dr El Shafei to work at the rehabilitation centre. It is an industrial matter that, of course, has received a bit of media attention, including the media attention the honourable member has referred to.

It is a complex industrial matter and I am advised it is currently before the South Australian Employment Tribunal. SA Health is working hard to support all staff while this issue is being resolved. Because the matter continues to be before the tribunal, I do not want to provide any further comment for reasons that are, I am sure, obvious.

By way of background, on 31 October this year doctors located at Hampstead held a stop work meeting in response to a ruling that was made by the South Australian Employment Tribunal itself. What SAET had determined was that the doctor mentioned earlier would return to work on 31 October.

The respective doctors to which I refer, that had a stop-work meeting, were supported in their action by SASMOA, and all doctors from the Central Adelaide Rehabilitation Service engaged in that stop-work meeting at 9am on 31 October. It resulted in no admissions to rehabilitation programs, for both inpatient and ambulatory services, being accepted into CALHN. This excluded rehabilitation-in-the-home services. Any existing rehab patients at the rehabilitation centre who were considered as medically unstable were transferred to an acute hospital, either an emergency department or a ward. There was some detriment to outpatient clinics.

The action ceased at 11am on Friday 3 November following an order from the SAET tribunal. I do not intend to go into substantial detail on the proceedings. Needless to say, SA Health would like to see this issue get resolved as quickly as we can so as to prevent any industrial action having implications on services and indeed patients.

I am more than happy to take on notice the specific elements of the honourable member’s question. It is an unfortunate industrial issue that is complex and is between staff as distinct from being really with SA Health, I am advised, so it makes it a difficult issue for SA Health to handle. But in terms of what the more specific applications are that the Hon. Ms Vincent has asked about, we are more than happy to take that part of the question on notice.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Is the minister able to comment on the other topic in my question, which was regarding patients of Hampstead being advised that their appointments for December and January have been cancelled? How many have been notified? Are any more likely to be notified, and when will those appointments be rescheduled to?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Health, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse): Again, for the sake of accuracy I think it might be prudent that I take that question on notice. If I can find out more information informally, I am happy to provide it to the honourable member as quickly as we can.