100 days later, health system shakeup is working

RAH nurse unit manager Natasha Leedham says KordaMentha’s budget-saving measures are having a positive result on the hospital’s daily operations. Picture: Tricia Watkinson

The Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN), which runs the Royal Adelaide Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and various statewide services, was facing a $300 million annual blowout in its $2 billion budget before administrator KordaMentha was brought in to assess the situation.

A progress report now showsCALHNis on track to reach a planned $41 million budget saving by June 1.

The use of expensive agency nurses has been cut from 7.7 per cent of nursing staff in January 2018 to 0.7 per cent last month.

In-patientsare also being treated and discharged more swiftly when clinically ready, resulting in them spending on average half a day less in hospital than at the same time last year, freeing up beds for new arrivals.

The shake-up has also cleared an administrative backlog of more than 9000 cases.

KordaMentha recommended a three-year program to haul in the budget deficit by $277 million. It won an $18.9 million contract for the first 12 months, which will grow to $43 million if extended for the full three years of the plan.

Financial auditors KordaMentha have been given the role of fixing the budget blowout at the Central Adelaide Local Health Network, after handing down a report.

CALHNchief executive Lesley Dwyer praised staff for helping deliver the results.

“This shows that our staff aren’t simply just ready for change, they are welcoming it and we are already seeing rewards for their significant effort,” she said.

Ms Dwyer said the introduction of daily discharge targets was working.

“This means our patients are getting better consistency of care and are being supported to be either discharged home, or given the right supports to continue their recovery in the community,” she said.

KordaMentha administrator Chris Martin said the rapid results were building momentum for further changes.

“It has been no less of a challenge than anticipated but one thing you never know is an organisation’s willingness and preparedness for change,” Mr Martin said.

“I think the reality is it has been broadly accepted and they have been open to reforms.”

RAH nurse unit manager Natasha Leedham said the change in her department had been noticeable.

“I didn’t think it would make much difference but there has definitely been a positive shift in attitude and preparation from all staff involved, so I am now fully committed to the plan,” Ms Leedham said.

Opposition health spokesman Chris Picton warned the savings target would be achieved by closing beds.