Health department officials are scrambling to find locum doctors to cover the long weekend at Inverell Hospital but admit there may be some shifts without a doctor in the building.
Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has called for urgent and immediate action to resolve the on-call doctor crisis at Inverell District Hospital after being notified that it will be left without a single on-call doctor for the next five days. Hunter New England Health says this claim is not correct, but there are a few holes in the roster that may result in patients at Inverell getting virtual care.
“We assure the community that Inverell Hospital continues to provide safe, high-quality care,” a spokesperson for Hunter New England Health District said.
“Attracting and retaining doctors in rural areas like Inverell is a nationwide challenge and is a
common issue faced by many rural and regional areas across NSW.”
“Management is working hard to fill some small gaps in Inverell Hospital’s medical roster in the
“In the case medical coverage is not able to be secured, on-demand virtual care will be provided by
Australian-trained emergency physicians with the assistance of our highly skilled nurses.”
“An on-call anaesthetist is also available to assist with critically unwell patients who need to be
stabilised and transferred for higher level care.”
Mr Marshall said the community was sick and tired of demanding action from Hunter New England Health for the most basic of health services and that enough was enough.
“We are sick and tired of having to fight like hell just to get Hunter New England Health to provide the most basic of health care services in our major centres – Inverell is not some remote backwater community and it deserves much better.”
“If it wasn’t for the local paramedics, no one outside the hospital would even know about this latest crisis.”
Mr Marshall said he was also concerned about the strain on the local paramedics.
“Continually transferring patients from Inverell to Armidale puts a huge strain on local paramedics and I am very concerned it leaves Inverell if there is an emergency situation and the ambulance and paramedics are out of town running a patient to Armidale,” he said.
“The lack of action from the health district could have disastrous consequences well beyond what happens in the hospital.”
Mr Marshall said this latest crisis underscored the critical importance of the region securing its freedom from Hunter New England Health and gaining its own local health district back.
“This latest crisis is yet more evidence of the need for Parliament and government to support my Bill to split the health district and return control and decision-making to our region.”
Mr Marshall says he has made urgent representation requesting the Minister for Health Ryan Park to intervene and restore medical staff coverage at Inverell Hospital’s emergency department as soon as possible.
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