Hospital equipment dead

MILLIONS of dollars worth of critical equipment used in North Coast hospitals may have reached the end of its useful life, prompting calls from the Audit Office for a review to ensure local patients' safety.

In his latest report to State Parliament, Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat found that the North Coast Area Health Service's fully depreciated plant and equipment assets totalled $24.3 million, an issue he wants addressed through an independent review.

“We recommend the Service (NCAHS), in conjunction with the Health Department, commission independent experts to assist in the review of the useful life of its assets, particularly critical plant and equipment,” Mr Achterstraat said. “Where the Service continues to use fully depreciated plant and equipment, it should ensure use of those assets does not compromise the efficient and effective operation of its hospitals.”

Mr Achterstraat said NCAHS believes the use of all its plant and equipment is appropriate from an efficiency and safety viewpoint.

But he points out that NCAHS has not formally reviewed its fully depreciated equipment, performed a stock take or reassessed their useful lives.

NCAHS chief executive Chris Crawford said the local health service did have equipment that had been fully depreciated but the service would undertake an internal review before an independent one.

“There are a range of strategies in place to ensure it (the equipment) remains operational and safe to use,” Mr Crawford said. “The NCAHS will be undertaking a process of internally reviewing the fully depreciated buildings, plant and equipment, before engaging in any external expertise for more formal review.”

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