Wednesday, 30 November 2016
MEMBER for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has called on Hunter New England Health (HNEH) to ‘please explain’ why the Inverell and Glen Innes Hospitals were without doctors on duty recently.
This past weekend the Inverell and Glen Innes Hospitals were left to operate without a doctor after a locum that had been engaged for duty at Inverell was unable to work – and the hospitals were left with no on-duty medical officer.
Mr Marshall said that he was concerned that this was not an isolated incident and has since learnt that doctor services are not being provided at the Inverell Hospital for a further two days this week.
“This treatment of the community by HNEH is simply not acceptable and it is only through good luck that a major medical emergency hasn’t occurred during these doctor-less times,” Mr Marshall said.
“I have been in touch with the Chief Executive of HNEH Michael DiRienzo and requested an urgent meeting to discuss these ongoing shortfalls in service – he has told me that there are no staffing problems.
“I will not stand for the ongoing treatment being foisted on these communities and the hospital staff, proper medical backup and support is a minimal requirement and HNEH are not meeting that at this time.
“These hospitals service significant population centres and should be adequately manned at all times.”
Mr Marshall has been told that on the weekend a patient presented at Inverell Hospital with a deep laceration and due to the absence of any doctor, nursing staff were faced with sending this patient from Inverell to Armidale in an ambulance for sutures. An obstetrician making a personal visit to the hospital, agreed to undertake the minor procedure on this occasion.
He was also told that at Glen Innes Hospital on Saturday night, a patient with severe pain from a double hernia turned up in emergency for help only to be told that there was nothing that could be done as there was no doctor – and that patient – a visitor from Brisbane – was turned away without pain relief.
“This is not good enough for our communities, I feel as though we are being treated as an afterthought by the Newcastle end of town and there is undue pressure on the nursing staff in particular,” Mr Marshall said.
“The Inverell community has fought hard to secure $30 million to redevelop its hospital and with planning for this work in the final stages, the community needs guarantees about doctor coverage in the hospital.
“The community’s confidence in their health service has been shaken and ultimately the value of spending $30 million redeveloping a hospital that doctors are unavailable at for three days during a week is being queried.
“I want to see that confidence restored, because the redevelopment is essential, but just as important is the knowledge that the hospital will be properly serviced by doctors to care for locals and deal with medical presentations that a district hospital should cater for.”