Have it in writing: Group identifies health service’s shortfalls

By | July 3, 2019

It is expected that the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) general manager will be shown the letter when he meets with Mr Toole on Thursday.

The action group spokesman, councillor Warren Aubin, told the Western Advocate that the letter communicates the serious concerns held for clinical health services in Bathurst.

“We are not in one iota trying to criticise our medical staff at the hospital, who continue to do a fantastic job, but it’s the system that needs a major overhaul,” he said.

The action group includes unidentified Bathurst medical professionals, who can say with certainty where there are deficiencies.

The letter identifies emergency orthopaedics, anaesthetics, respiratory specialists, cardiology, obstetrics and gynaecology, gastric specialists, ophthalmology, vascular surgery, urology, palliative care, ear, nose and throat doctors, and emergency specialists, which are all said to have “blatant shortfalls”.

“We are told that many positions are filled by locum doctors, which at least plugs a gap, but does not provide stability and certainty in the medical workforce,” Cr Aubin said.

One of the other concerns from the group, as per the letter, is the lack of MRI services available in Bathurst.

The group said that Bathurst has just one MRI machine in the private sector, to which public patients have “very limited” access.

“Orange has three. Dubbo is getting a third. Lithgow is getting one. It means people have to make it to Orange for an MRI, which cannot be justified,” Cr Aubin said.

The MRI services form part of a bigger issue, which is Bathurst’s reliance on Orange for medical services, despite the populations being similar.

“The catchment area of Bathurst is as big as the other centres, yet too many patients are sent to Orange for basic services and are often stranded there after treatment,” Cr Aubin said.

“This is unacceptable. It might be better than it has been in the past, but it is still not good enough.”

The letter went on to say that transporting a patient to Orange didn’t only result in unnecessary time and cost, but also led to “a huge personal and social cost” that is not taken into account by the WNSWLHD.

“This includes the significant impact of the families of Bathurst people who are sent to Orange. It includes having to return to Orange for clinics or follow-up treatment,” Cr Aubin said.

“It should all be available in Bathurst.”

The action group plans to make a formal submission for the clinical services review that the health district is carrying out.

As for the letter, Cr Aubin hopes that it will have an impact when Mr Toole meets with the WNSWLHD.

“We’ll be requesting an answer and hopefully some direction from this correspondence,” he said.

Members of the public are encouraged to keep sharing their experiences attending the Bathurst Health Service so the action group can get a better understanding of the issues people have been facing.

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Western Advocate – Health