Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones speaks at the official opening of the $17.5 million Grafton Base Hospital Ambulatory Care Centre on Thursday, 13th August, 2020.
Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones speaks at the official opening of the $17.5 million Grafton Base Hospital Ambulatory Care Centre on Thursday, 13th August, 2020.

QLD BORDER: Health district concern over Clarence exclusion

THE HEAD of the Northern NSW Local Health District has expressed a concern over the Clarence Valley's exclusion from the Queensland border zone.

Responding to questions over the exclusion by the Daily Examiner, NNSWLHD chief executive Wayne Jones said that they welcomed the extension of the Queensland border zone.

"While the extension of the border zone is a welcome development, we remain concerned that the communities of the Clarence Valley remain excluded from the border zone," he said.

Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones outside Byron Central Hospital.
Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones outside Byron Central Hospital.

 

"We will continue to advocate for this area to be included, which will support residents to more easily access services in Queensland.

Mr Jones said the health district has been working hard to overcome the challenges posed by the Queensland border restrictions on the movement of their health staff and patient flow, and the current extension would provide significant relief for both their health facilities and communities.

"The extension will result in over 100 of our staff now being able to return to their usual place of work," he said.

Doctor shortages became a problem when the Queensland was suddenly closed on August 5, and Maclean locum agency Doctor Oncall told The Daily Examiner of the heartbreaking choices their doctors had to make.

General Manager Nicole Sierakowski said it was a real conflict for the doctors, with many supporting quarantine restrictions and also not wanting to leave the hospitals and patients in the lurch.

Unfortunately, with traffic queues and uncertainty, many were forced to abandon shifts, allegedly leaving one northern NSW hospital without a doctor on one night.

The health district's advocacy joined with Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, who had urged Clarence residents to write to the Queensland premier and demand the area be included.

"It matters to Clarence Valley residents and businesses because like the other local governments you chose to include in the 'border bubble', we too have strong social and economic ties to OLD," he wrote.

"Whether it be family living across the border, working there, doing business there, furthering their education, seeking specialist medical treatment or holidaying there, we in the Northern Rivers share a close bond with QLD."

The new border zone, which includes every council area in the NNSWLHD except the Clarence, begins on Thursday.

A Queensland Health spokesperson said that the border zone was decided based on the location of key services for border towns.

"This includes both sides of the border - people who live in Queensland but work or go to school in their neighbouring border town, or people who live in New South Wales but come to work or school in their neighbouring border town in Queensland," they said.



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