LETTER TO THE EDITOR
In 2019 the Federal Government announced $25.7m for a new Ambulatory Care Centre at the Alice Springs hospital, essentially an outpatient department.
In 2021 the NT Government announced that the centre will deliver a broad range of services including renal dialysis, oncology, obstetrics and gynaecology clinical services and midwifery, to meet the growing demand of the region.
It turns out the NT Government is now allocating the whole $25.7m to build a new renal dialysis unit at the hospital. There will be no other services provided in this new centre. There will be no “broad range of services”.
Instead, the NT Government will move 90% of the renal dialysis service from the Flynn Drive Community Health Centre, which has been the hub for renal dialysis in Alice Springs for more than 30 years. The Government intends to retain one “pod” of 16 renal dialysis chairs at the Flynn Drive Community Health Centre, as a “back up” for the new hospital unit.
The Flynn Drive unit has been in need of a complete upgrade for many years. The NT Government has chosen to use this Federal funding for a new hospital renal dialysis unit, rather than pay for an upgrade of the Flynn Drive Renal Dialysis facility.
Alice Springs has been duped again.
“This centralising of renal dialysis into an acute hospital setting demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the value of community based health services.
It will mean that literally hundreds of patients, their families and support staff will now have to commute to and from the hospital for renal dialysis every day, creating exponentially more congestion in an already over-burdened, confined, extremely busy hospital campus.
This is a huge change to health service delivery in Alice Springs and it is clear the Government has not thought through the massive implications for the entire town.
It is an excellent example of why centralising NT Health Services back to Darwin, which occurred in 2021, is bad for regional areas, such as Alice Springs. Clearly bureaucrats and politicians who do not live in the town or care about the town are making bad decisions for regional centres such as Alice Springs.
I am appalled by the lack of community consultation and the lack of consideration given to how this decision will adversely impact the lives of patients and their families who are dependent on renal dialysis.
“The new unit will include 48 renal dialysis chairs. The design is currently being finalised. Construction is due to commence in 2024. This additional pressure on an already strained hospital is senseless. The only positive appears be that locating the renal unit at the hospital may take pressure off chronic staffing issues, with the renal unit accessing hospital staff when needed.
Robyn Lambley, Independent Member for Araluen.