INDEPENDENT INQUIRY NEEDED IN WAKE OF INVERELL ANAESTHETISTS BUNGLE

Friday, 23 February 2024

AN exasperated Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has issued a public call for an independent inquiry into the management of Inverell Hospital and Hunter New England Health, in the wake of revelations that three anaesthetists were operating without proper supervision at Inverell Hospital.

The bombshell news was made public earlier this week after Hunter New England Health was forced to issue a statement confirming the suspension of the medicos and subsequent cessation of surgical and obstetric services at the hospital.

Mr Marshall said Hunter New England Health must be held to account for the blunder and come clean about how this occurred and what steps were being taken to return services to Inverell Hospital as soon as possible.

“I’ve been in contact with local patients who’ve had had their elective surgery cancelled very suddenly by the hospital without any explanation why,” he said.

“The uncertainty about when procedures would recommence at the hospital has caused a great deal of distress, especially for expecting mothers with planned ‘C’ sections at the hospital.

“It’s been weeks now since Hunter New England Health says it discovered the medics weren’t appropriately qualified, after years of them working in the hospital, yet we are yet to hear anything from them about how and when anaesthetics will return to the hospital.

“The reluctance of Hunter New England Health to say anything publicly and not give interviews on this matter is unforgivable, particularly given the seriousness of this situation, and I believe speaks to a deeper issue within management.”

Mr Marshall said the issue was part of a broader culture of secrecy and cover ups at Hunter New England Health and he would press for an independent inquiry into the matter.

“The only public statement given by Hunter New England Health was so vanilla they had to issue another one so people understood what it was all about,” he said.

“They say they were actively working to secure anaesthetic coverage and address workforce challenges at Inverell Hospital, but a week on we still don’t have a clue what’s happening.

“There are many questions that need to be asked and answers provided to the community and the only way to do that properly is through and independent inquiry.

“We cannot have the organisation which stuffed this up investigating itself.
“An independent inquiry would be the best way to get to the bottom of this mess and give the community confidence it won’t happen again.”

Mr Marshall said the last-minute cancellations of elective surgeries would put further pressure on waiting times across the state.

“Patients have been transferred to Armidale Hospital or Tamworth Hospital, which are already struggling under current workloads.”

Mr Marshall said he would be doing everything he could to urgently restore anaesthetic services at Inverell Hospital.

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