hospital ward
A deserted ward at the main hospital during a strike by medical practitioners following the failed negotiations between health unions and government on wage increases and improvement of working conditions in Kenya's capital Nairobi, December 8, 2016. Reuters/Thomas Mukoya

The Royal Adelaide Hospital ward S7 that was temporarily closed over Christmas will now be closing permanently leaving doctors to be angry and baffled. SA Health decided to keep it closed instead of relocating it to the Lyell McEwin Hospital.

Doctors and nurses felt insulted about the ward's closure. Australian Medical Association's SA branch president Dr Janie Fletcher said that the closure showed a breakdown in communication between senior doctors and nurses and the government.

Fletcher said that there was an increase in the number of patients who come to the emergency room but the number of hospital beds could not cope. "It is clear that those responsible for these decisions have either not understood the impact of their decision or ignored the consequences," she said.

South Australian Salaried Medical Officers Association (SASMOA) president David Pope said that the closure would be dangerous for patients and put them at risk. "It's extremely upsetting because it's dangerous for patients. It means doctors can't provide the services that patients need when they need them and that puts the public at risk which puts them at risk," he said.

Opposition health spokesman Stephen Wade said that SA Health Minister Jack Snelling was either can't be trusted or can't deliver. "This is a breach of a commitment to the workers, it's a breach of a commitment to the people of South Australia," Wade said. Meanwhile, the state opposition said that Premier Jay Weatherill should sack the health minister for not imposing consultation for the closing of wards.

Pope said that the doctors were given assurances that the ward would be reopened. The hospital also posted a signage inside the ward showing that it would be closed until Jan. 23, 2017. It has an additional note that they would come back. On Wednesday, nurses met to decide the admission restriction that the two hospitals would impose from Jan. 21. In their decision, they considered that the patient's safety would not be compromised.

The ward S7 closure was part of cuts to four wards at Queen Elizabeth and Royal Adelaide hospitals according to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation.