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Snelling forewarned on coming flu season

The high number of flu cases in South Australia so far in 2017 means that the Government must pull back from its reckless plan for a winter opening of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.

“The latest SA Health data shows that the number of reported flu cases in South Australia in late April were running at the highest level year to date for the last six years,” said Shadow Minister for Health Stephen Wade.

“The 1,106 reported flu cases in 2017 is more than at the same time as we led in the heavy 2015 flu season when city patients were moved to country hospitals to cope with the high level of demand.

“In 2015 the Health Minister Jack Snelling explicitly ruled out opening the new hospital in winter, admitting that it would be ‘foolhardy and dangerous’ to do so (The Advertiser, 18 September 2015).

“In 2015 he was ruling out a 3 July move, more than eight months out, without any flu data. This year, he is flirting with a move after mid-June, just six weeks away, in spite of high flu notifications.

“With indications that 2017 will be a bad flu season, Jack Snelling needs to rule out a winter move into the nRAH to ensure patient safety isn’t placed at risk.

“Doctors and nurses working at the nRAH should not be put in the risky situation of trying to come to grips with operating in an unfamiliar clinical environment whilst coping with huge numbers of flu patients.

“The fact that the nRAH’s electronic patient record system (EPAS) won’t be fully functioning when the hospital opens and hard copy patient records will need to be couriered in from an off-site location adds further weight to the fact that the window has closed for an opening of the nRAH before winter.

“Moving to the nRAH will be the most complex logistical exercise the South Australian health system has ever undertaken and will come with significant risk to patients whenever it occurs.

“To overlay that difficult and stressful move for staff and patients with record levels of demand from patients suffering from influenza would be reckless in the extreme.

"Minister Snelling needs to come clean with the South Australian community and particularly the thousands of health workers who are on stand by for this move.

"They don’t deserve to have to fly blind as to when the Government plans to transition to the new Hospital."