Doctors join protest
DOCTORS who rely on Lismore Base Hospital’s after hours emergency surgery nurse say they were not consulted about health service plans to axe the position.
Lismore Base Hospital Medical Staff Council spokesman and prominent paediatrician Dr Chris Ingall said neither paediatricians nor obstetricians working out of Lismore Base were formally told or asked their opinion of the plan to scrap the position, which comes into effect on Monday.
The comments were made at a rally of about 60 nurses and doctors outside the base hospital yesterday to protest against the cut.
Northern NSW Local Health Network chief executive Chris Crawford has defended the move, saying it brings Lismore into line with comparable regional hospitals such as Tamworth and Dubbo.
However, the move has been widely condemned by clinicians who warn it will increase risk to emergency patients – in particular babies and mothers in the case of emergency caesareans.
And while the health service may not have asked doctors their opinion, the doctors gave it anyway.
In a letter to Mr Crawford dated March 2, Medical Staff Council chair Dr Peter Rankin said the council had unanimously decided to “condemn this move on the basis of an increasing risk for patients requiring urgent operations through the night”.
“There is no possible way for the (operating) Theatre to meet the fifteen minute guideline to have a patient ready to be operated on if such a change is made,” Dr Rankin warns.
NSW Nurses Association Lismore Base Hospital rep Gil Wilson said hospital administrators around the state were now using benchmarking as a “weapon” and had transformed it from a process of finding what hospitals had the best medical treatments to a way of finding out what hospitals were the cheapest practices.
Lismore MP Thomas George told the crowd he stood with the nurses and doctors and was seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Crawford aimed at reversing the job cut.
Dr Ingall told the nurses to continue the fight.
“This is just the first little turn of the screw,” he said. “Keep it going. Talk to your friends about it; talk to everyone.”