The recent announcement by the SA Minister for Health on the $270 million upgrade due to commence in January at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH) has raised important questions about patient rehab facilities by concerned physiotherapists.

The APA is supportive of the announcement of a new brain and spinal cord rehab centre as part of the upgrade, but seeks commitment to have specialist allied health practitioners be involved in formulating the plans – including the dedicated hydrotherapy pool - to ensure the new facilities meet the needs of the rehab patients it will service.

Physios are also unsure how the hospital upgrade will affect general rehab ward patients, given that existing wards at TQEH (including those previously earmarked for general rehabilitation) are already full. Clarification is required on where general rehab patients will be housed and also the proximity of the rehab gym to these ward(s). The APA strongly advocates that the gym be located on or adjacent to the rehab ward for ease of access and time efficiency, consistent with rehab best practice.

Previous development plans at TQEH have been for rehabilitation services only. Whilst these plans were inadequate for meeting the needs of rehabilitation patients, the scope of work has now expanded to include a new Emergency Department, ICU, labs and operating theatres. The APA is concerned that the budget allocated is likely to be inadequate and rehabilitation services will be the ‘soft target’, with potential resources eroded if the other, higher profile components of the build demand more. The APA seeks assurance from the state government that the needs of rehab patients will not be compromised by the significant budget demands of these additional services, which were not considered in the original scope of works.

Further, the APA calls for lessons learned from the recent rehabilitation builds at Modbury Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre to be incorporated into the planning process for rehabilitation facilities at TQEH, to ensure safe and efficient facilities for future rehabilitation patients of the Central Adelaide Local Health Network.

APA National President Phil Calvert, himself a South Australian with significant experience working in the public hospital system, reiterated support for the hospital upgrade to rehab facilities. “It’s great that the government has committed to improved rehab facilities for spinal and brain injury patients, and our members welcome this work commencing as quickly as possible. However, we need to be sure that the facilities provided are in line with world’s best rehab practices for these and general rehab patients, and not provided as an afterthought once the budget allocation for ED and operating theatre needs are fulfilled.”

“These patients will have the best possible chance of recovery and reintegration in their communities and work places if they have access to appropriate gym, hydrotherapy and allied health care.”

Phil Calvert is available for media comment.


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