Hunter New England Local Health District has denied claims made by Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall that Armidale Regional Referral Hospital will go without a doctor for 60 hours next week.
In a media release today, Mr Marshall has called for urgent and immediate action for Armidale Hospital to staff a doctor, after claiming the internal hospital roster shows a gap of no doctor for 60 hours next week.
“The situation is getting increasingly worse and is now at crisis point,” Mr Marshall said.
“The rosters I have seen scare the hell out of me – in the Armidale Emergency Department, at this point, there is no doctor rostered for 12 hours on Monday, 12 hours on Tuesday, 20 hours on Wednesday, eight hours on Friday and eight hours on Saturday.”
However, Hunter New England Health says this is not true.
“Claims there are significant gaps in medical coverage at Armidale Hospital’s emergency department over the coming week are false,” said a Hunter New England Health spokesperson.
“Armidale Hospital continues to provide safe and high-quality care, and we encourage anyone needing treatment to present to the emergency department.”
“Our district continues to actively recruit to all medical positions in the emergency department in line with our aim to secure a permanent workforce in Armidale.”
Mr Marshall has been vocal in expressing his concern over Armidale Hospital’s care and what he claims to be a continued failure in the administration and functioning of the rural referral hospital.
“This is almost unbelievable, I mean, we are not some small remote backwater town with a tiny hospital or MPS – this is Armidale, the major referral hospital for the Northern Tablelands that is supposed to be the buttress for the smaller district hospitals and MPS facilities in more isolated locations,” said Mr Marshall.
“ED services are stretched to capacity with an increase in patients seeking medical care due to the winter season and referrals from Inverell, Glen Innes and Tenterfield.”
Mr Marshall is demanding change.
“Health district management have again failed our region and it’s time for the Health Secretary and Minister to clean these people out, who appear to delight in mistreating our communities and their own hard-working and tired nursing staff,” said Mr Marshall.
“This situation cannot continue as I fear someone in our community may lose their life.”
Hunter New England Health maintains its confidence and commitment to the community that safety comes first and recruitment is a high priority, and that alternative options are available.
“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.” said a Hunter New England Health spokesperson.
“If there are gaps in the roster, management works hard to cover shifts with locums and have on-demand access to emergency trained physicians (FACEMs) via telehealth.”
New England Times has approached Mr Marshall for further comment following Hunter New England Health released their statement.
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