Nepean Hospital patients grounded

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Cranes are working on developments in close proximity to the Nepean Hospital on Derby Street. Photo: Megan Dunn.

High rise developments surrounding Nepean Hospital have caused the suspension of urgent life saving helicopter transfers to and from the already struggling hospital.

Nepean Hospital confirmed the reports today, explaining that the close proximity of cranes at residential developments on Derby and Parker streets have affected helicopter paths.

To add to concerns of patients and hospital staff, Shadow Minister for Health Walt Secord visited the hospital today, and claims doctors inside suggest flights won’t be operational for years to come.

“I’ve been told by doctors that they will not have an operational helipad at Nepean Hospital until 2021. That is absolutely unacceptable,” he said.

“It’s ridiculous and ludicrous that you cannot land a helicopter at a major teaching hospital in Sydney. Doctors inside are angry about this, because when there’s a trauma, every minute counts.”

State Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord at Nepean Hospital on Thursday. Photo: Megan Dunn.
State Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord at Nepean Hospital on Thursday. Photo: Megan Dunn.

However, Nepean Hospital Acting General Manager Brett Williams said they have a contingency plan, and are working with “relevant authorities” to safely restore access for helicopters as soon as possible.

“We have a management plan in place developed by NSW Ambulance and senior clinicians at Nepean Hospital to ensure appropriate transfer measures by road are in place for time critical patients,” he said in a statement.

“The emergency department and other services at Nepean Hospital are fully operational.”

Nepean Hospital confirmed they are working with Penrith Council and aviation safety consultants to determine and respond to other proposed developments in and around the Nepean Hospital campus.

Health Infrastructure, who is responsible for managing the delivery of the NSW Government’s $5 billion capital works program, hopes to soften concerns over the issue recurring during any future development of the hospital.

“A key consideration for Health Infrastructure when redeveloping an existing hospital site is to ensure minimal impact to patient services during construction,” a Health Infrastructure spokesperson said.

“This includes ensuring that any large equipment such as cranes do not impact on the safety of patients and staff or impede emergency services.

“If the helipad area is required for a short period during the construction phase of the redevelopment, all affected services will be notified well in advance and alternative arrangements will be made with near-by hospitals.”

A spokesperson for NSW Ambulance Service said their services have not been disrupted by the issue.

“NSW Ambulance retrieval services has not experienced any disruptions, either by road or helicopter, following suspended helicopter operations at Nepean Hospital,” he said.

“As a Major Trauma Service, Westmead Hospital receives patients meeting these criteria in normal practice.”

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