ARMIDALE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT TO BE WITHOUT DOCTOR FOR 12 HOURS

Friday, 14 July 2023

Not good enough: Marshall calls for urgent intervention

MEMBER for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has slammed Hunter New England Health management, demanding immediate action, following news there will be no doctor coverage at the Armidale Hospital Emergency Department, between 8pm tonight and 8am tomorrow morning.

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.

“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 12-hour gap in medical staff will put immense pressure on nursing staff in the ED who will 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.

“Armidale Hospital is the main hub and catchment for the whole of the Northern Tablelands, including Glen Innes, Inverell, Tenterfield and Moree.

“I am calling on the Minister for Health and Hunter New England Health to take immediate action – to ensure there is a doctor on site in Armidale Hospital tonight.

“This is yet another sorry example of how Hunter New England ‘against’ Health’s Newcastle-centric management is letting our community down but also letting their own nursing staff down.

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

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