Royal Darwin Hospital is over-capacity yet again, forcing surgeries to be cancelled, with health authorities declaring another “code yellow” – the fourth since February and the second this month.
The latest code yellow was called this afternoon, meaning category two and three elective surgeries have been cancelled, while emergency cases can still be admitted during the “peaks in hospital capacity” period, the government said in a statement.
“A code yellow enacts a number of practices to allow the hospital to closely manage the peak until pressures ease,” the statement said.
“Patient safety is a priority and the dedicated staff at RDH work hard to ensure Territorians continue to receive the best patient centred care possible in these periods of high demand.”
The government again declined to explain why the hospital is experiencing regular peaks in demand.
The government has been accused of being short-staffed at the hospital due to reassigning health professionals to the Howard Springs COVID-19 quarantine facility after they took over management of that facility.
While Health Minister Natasha Fyles denied the claims earlier this month, the head of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation NT said the displacement of staff was contributing to current staff at the hospital feeling at “breaking point”.
“The pressure on the system is at the moment, unsustainable, and the staff are exhausted, and they’re feeling like you know their jobs are at risk, their registration’s at risk,” Cath Hatcher said on September 16.
“They’re very dedicated workers within the health system, but they are near breaking point.”
The Australia Medical Association NT also called for the government to secure more beds for non-acute patients so other patients needing hospitalization could be better accommodated. AMA NT head Dr Robert Parker called on the Gunner Government to take control of the crisis and increase the hospital’s budget to improve the situation.
The Opposition CLP attempted to question the Gunner Government’s ongoing inability to effectively manage over-crowding issues at the hospital last week in Parliament.
However, Chief Minister Michael Gunner and Health Minister Natasha Fyles refused to explain what measures they are considering to fix the ongoing issues at RDH, instead using the time to incorrectly claim the CLP were anti-vaxxers and continually turning the conversation to COVID-19.
The Gunner Government has still not publicly stated what they intend to do to help ease the pressures on RDH.