Monday, 19 December 2016

A HIGH level meeting last Friday has given Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall and Inverell Mayor Paul Harmon renewed confidence that doctor staffing problems at Inverell Hospital are set to be resolved – and rostering issues in the emergency department will be soon fixed.

The two men met with Hunter New England Health chief executive Michael DiRienzo and its executive director of rural and regional health services Susan Heyman on to examine issues around what they’d seen as escalating problems with emergency department rosters and lack of doctors at both the Inverell and Glen Innes hospitals.

Mr Marshall said after they’d emerged from a 90-minute briefing and discussion of those issues with the two top level health professionals that he was confident planned health service changes were in place to arrest those drawbacks and resolve problems.

“It was a robust, productive and very detailed meeting. The health service acknowledged there were significant issues and that they had a lot of work to do. They understood our concerns about what has become an issue in the wider community,” Mr Marshall said.

“We wanted answers to what we see as ongoing problems filling the medical officer rosters at the emergency departments, particularly in Inverell, and we were given an extensive briefing on numbers, management and doctor structures and service profiles.

“We were also provided with detailed information on the procedures for emergency department patient presentations and statistics relating to triage treatment and admissions, and transfers and referrals for people seeking treatment at those emergency departments.

“I’m confident from those talks and that profile information that early in the New Year a tendering process around emergency department servicing and the GP clinic at Inverell to guarantee the provision of medical officers will see a real improvement and resolution of the issues.”

Mayor Paul Harmon said the health service had recognised local issues and community concerns about the Inverell hospital’s level of service.

“There were certain issues raised in confidence in that meeting but I’m more confident now the service is aware of our issues and concerns and that plans are on track for those to be addressed early in the New Year,” Mr Harmon said.

“The community rightly wants a guarantee about doctor coverage in those hospitals and their confidence about that issue has been shaken in recent weeks so we were asking questions about the planning and management for a new $30 million hospital redevelopment at Inverell in the light of those issues,” Mr Marshall said.

“We also discussed the progress of that project and I’m looking forward to updating the Inverell community about that early next year as well.”

Mr Marshall said the talks also included discussion about locum shifts and staffing, which were central to some of the community criticism about doctors not being available to cover some emergency shifts.

“I was glad to hear that HNEH shares our concerns about a reliance on locum shifts and I think they too see it as a system that is costly and unreliable and which will be addressed to provide for a blend of more local and non-local GP’s in the emergency department and at the GP Clinic in the hospital, so that we will see better rostering and shift coverage, and ultimately a better service for local patients,” Mr Marshall said.

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