Patients at Peel Health Campus had to wait hours for food and one was left in a soiled bed for an hour as staff struggled to cope with a spike in admissions, a parliamentary committee was told yesterday.

In an internal email read by committee member Ken Travers, a staff member raised concerns the hospital was at "crisis point" and that patient care was compromised by "unsafe" staffing levels.

It told of the patient in the soiled bed and patients waiting hours without food or drink because staff were too busy.

The concerns came after a program began for which doctors were paid $200 for each patient admitted from the emergency department.

In another email to Peel's director of medical services in August 2010, a staff member raised concerns the patient load and turnover rate was becoming so high "patient safety is being put at risk". The worker was worried prescriptions took longer to complete, which caused a delay in discharges so patients occupied beds that patients waiting in emergency could have used.

Patients also were waiting too long for intravenous antibiotics and other medications, which was unacceptable, the email said.

South Metropolitan Health Service chief executive Nicole Feely told the committee she would never have authorised the $200 payments and was not aware of such a fee at any other WA hospital.

The hospital's private operator, Health Solutions WA, has repaid $1.4 million to the State after an audit found admissions did not meet Health Department billing criteria.

Mr Travers, a Labor MP, also raised allegations that HSWA's major shareholder Jon Fogarty received $10 million a year as a consultant for HSWA - $2 million plus 50 per cent of profits over $500,000 a month.

This was a quarter of the $40 million paid to all PHC staff in one year.

Peel's director of emergency Suzanne Gray said rather than an incentive, the $200 payments were for extra work doctors did as a result of admitting more patients.

Outside, a HSWA spokeswoman said it held a recruitment drive for doctors from 2010 to 2012 and increased the hours doctors spent in emergency 66 per cent to cope with the rise in admissions.

The West Australian

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