Sun. May 26th, 2024

Armidale hospital has been left without a doctor from midnight to 8am tomorrow morning.

Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has slammed Hunter New England Health management, demanding immediate action, after hearing there would be no doctor coverage at the Armidale Hospital Emergency Department, between 8pm tonight and 8am tomorrow morning. Later on Friday afternoon a locum was secured and it was thought the crisis was averted, but that doctor then withdrew leaving the significant regional hospital without a doctor again.

Mr Marshall said he was astounded that the rural referral hospital, the largest in the Northern Tablelands, would be left without critical medical coverage for 12 hours. Armidale Hospital is the main hub and catchment for the whole of the Northern Tablelands, including Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield and Moree.

“This is not a hospital located in some rural isolated backwater town, this is Armidale, the largest and most critical hospital in the health network in the northern most part of the health district – and there is not a single doctor rostered,” Mr Marshall said.

“I have urgently written to the Minister for Health as well as Hunter New England Health, demanding immediate answers and action – this is simply not good enough.”

“The 12-hour black hole in medical services is due to a rostering shortfall and the inability to secure locum medical officers.”

“There will also be no on-site medical officers to support inpatient wards.”

“This follows news of the unjustified dismissal of a hardworking and regular locum doctor, who was instrumental in filling the gaps at the Armidale Hospital Emergency Department.”

“Hunter New England Health has created this problem, but they seem either oblivious, or simply do not care.”

The hospital would have remained open but in the gap nursing staff in the ED would need to use the telehealth service ‘My Emergency Doctor’ for patients presenting to Armidale.

“Telehealth was never designed to replace doctors, but that’s exactly how the health district is now using the service. It’s a very poor substitute and doesn’t work for nursing staff nor patients who deserve to be treated by a doctor in their own hospital,” Mr Marshall said.

“The sooner we are unshackled from the heartless Newcastle health bigwigs and get our own health district back, with local control, the better!”

Adam Marshall’s Facebook Post advising a doctor had been found this afternoon.

Following Mr Marshall’s release there was intervention, and Hunter New England Health found a locum to cover tonight’s shift. Hunter New England Health however said that doctor then withdrew.

“Attracting and retaining doctors in rural areas like Armidale is a nationwide challenge and is a
common issue faced by many rural and regional areas across NSW,” a spokesperson for Hunter New England Health said.

“Armidale Hospital has been unable to secure onsite medical officer coverage for one shift on 15 July
from midnight to 8am, despite extensive advertising and efforts from local and district

“The District secured a doctor on Friday afternoon to cover the shift, but unfortunately they later
withdrew at short notice. We continue working towards finding coverage.”

“If we’re not able to secure an on-site doctor, on call physicians and paramedics will be on standby to
assist the ED if required.”

“The ED will continue to have on-demand access to emergency trained physicians (FACEMs) via
telehealth and additional nurses will be brought in for patient care.”

“At no time will patient care be unsafe or compromised.”

“Telehealth does not replace doctors on the ground but provides a reliable alternative when the ED is
unable to secure onsite emergency medical officer coverage and would normally go on a Business
Continuity Plan,” the spokesperson said.

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