- February 17, 2015 7:42PM
A MYSTERY baby bulge of 190 newborns has emerged as the State Government justifies plans to shift critically ill newborns across town from Flinders Medical Centre, which the Opposition says breaks an election pledge.
Under the State Government’s Transforming Health plan, the highest-level-care newborns will be diverted from FMC’s world-class neo natal Intensive Care Unit to a new Women’s and Children’s Hospital, once it has been built on the new Royal Adelaide Hospital site.
No time frame has been set for such a project, and no money has been allocated for it.
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall says up to 200 of the sickest babies born in the southern suburbs may be affected a year, while Health Minister Jack Snelling says it may be as few as 10.
The 190 gap in the counting is still years away from any kind of reality.
Premier Jay Weatherill said — prior to the state election — that: “Labor will redevelop the neo natal unit at Flinders Medical Centre to make sure our sickest babies get the best possible care.”
The Opposition says this is a broken promise kept hidden during two recent by-elections; Mr Snelling disagrees and says consolidating the best possible care for the sickest newborns at one site is the best option.
Labor MP for Elder Annabel Digance wrote to a constituent about possible changes to the FMC neo natal unit saying: “As a local mum the idea of cutting funding set aside to help sick babies truly disgusts me.”
However this was a letter criticising potential Liberal health policy when she was a candidate for the seat.
Mr Snelling pledged the FMC neo natal intensive care unit will remain even though the sickest babies will be transferred.
There is now a Facebook campaign fighting to ‘save the neo natal intensive care unit’ even though the bulk of the ICU will remain.
The State Government is spending $17.5 million upgrading the FMC neo natal unit, increasing cots from 35 to 50, and has just appointed new architects for the project.
Work is due to begin late this year and be finished by 2017.
Opposition health spokesman Stephen Wade said shifting the sickest babies to the WCH was being driven by budgets rather than health outcomes, while Mr Snelling urged the public to take emotion out of the debate and focus on what is best for families.
Liberal MP for Mitchell Corey Wingard and wife Emma say their fourth daughter Brooke, now 12, owes her life to FMC’s neo natal ICU after being born with a severe respiratory problem.
“If she had to be transferred across town she might have died — staying here at FMC also meant I could be with her,” Mrs Wingard said.
“I can’t imagine the anguish mums will face if told their absolutely sickest new born has to be sent into the city.”
News Corp 2015 Copyright