Doctor crisis rocks community
THE aftermath of Jacaranda Health's closure is causing an influx of patients to the Grafton Base Hospital emergency room because medical practices cannot support the number of people flowing through their doors.
Grafton Base Hospital medical staff chairman Allan Tyson said this was a long- term problem that had been exacerbated recently due to the shortage of doctors.
"People tend to present late more unwell because they haven't had an opportunity to have their primary health looked after,” Dr Tyson said.
"They get a cough, if they could get into a GP they would give them antibiotics but they leave it for a fortnight and they have to be carted up here,” he said.
"Hospitals are left trying to pick up the pieces and patients are getting a bit sicker before they come.”
Carol Pachos from Grafton GP Super Clinic said the lack of doctors was a Grafton-wide issue.
"Especially since the practice that closed last week, for those two or three days we took 100 to 200 extra calls,” Ms Pachos said.
"No practice can accommodate the overflow from another whole practice closing,” she said.
Ms Pachos said it was getting to the point where the clinic had to turn away people, telling patients to visit the hospital for simple tasks.
"We've got a situation that is in crisis point for our community,” she said.
"Who is going to help us bring change here, and not change in 12 months or two years, change now?”
She said Super Clinic doctors were pushing for something to be done.
"I know that I've had some of our doctors say that I need to agitate - I'm not even sure who to agitate in regard to this,” she said.
Ms Pachos said the Super Clinic had a commitment to care for its patients.
"I want our patients to know we will look after them,” she said.
Between January and March, Grafton Base Hospital saw 2513 triage 4 patients, such as patients with sprained ankles and earaches, and 646 triage 5 patients such as those who had abrasions or small cuts.
A spokesperson from the Northern NSW Local Health District urged people to call the Health Direct line 1800 022 222 which is staffed by doctors and nurses 24/7 who can give advice to patients.