Check-up fail

Health sys­tem could col­lapse if we don’t fight: Burge

Deniliquin Pastoral Times - - FRONT PAGE - By ZOE MCMAUGH

De­niliquin’s health ser­vices have been ne­glected for too long, and Shirlee Burge be­lieves it’s time to fight, and stop ac­cept­ing the con­tin­u­ing de­cline.

Mrs Burge was in­spired to make her con­cerns about health ser­vices pub­lic when De­niliquin Hos­pi­tal tem­po­rar­ily re­duced its ma­ter­nity ser­vices in Septem­ber.

It was the lat­est in a long line of con­cerns about what Mrs Burge de­scribes as a pro­longed down­grade of the hos­pi­tal.

Now, Mrs Burge said she’s shocked by the lat­est di­rec­tive that sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures on ba­bies and chil­dren un­der 15 are no longer al­lowed at De­niliquin Hos­pi­tal.

It is be­lieved let­ters were sent to lo­cal doc­tors re­cently is­su­ing the di­rec­tive.

‘‘It is a national dis­grace that our young- sters are trans­ported out of town for mi­nor ail­ments and pro­ce­dures,’’ Mrs Burge said.

‘‘We have no reg­u­lar pub­lic trans­port to any­where, so how is this al­lowed to oc­cur?

‘‘The onus on our am­bu­lance ser­vice as a re­sult to re­move a child to an­other hos­pi­tal puts at risk the abil­ity to ser­vice other crit­i­cal pa­tients.

‘‘Mur­rumbidgee Health needs to em­ploy a pae­di­a­tri­cian and pae­di­atric nurses im­me­di­ately.’’

Mur­rumbidgee Lo­cal Health District re­gional gen­eral man­ager Rose­mary Garth­waite said it is in fact a di­rec­tion from the Min­istry of Health, which she said is part of the ‘‘role de­lin­eation’’ process.

‘‘It’s about what dif­fer­ent fa­cil­i­ties are able to de­liver, and it is part of NSW Health pol­icy,’’ Ms Garth­waite said.

‘‘Th­ese re­views are done reg­u­larly, at De­niliquin and at other sites, and it’s more a re­minder of what is avail­able at the hos­pi­tal.

‘‘From a Min­istry per­spec­tive, it is all about pa­tient safety. Peo­ple un­der 15 are a vul­ner­a­ble group and we need to en­sure they have ac­cess to other support ser­vices — that in­cludes ac­cess to ICU and other spe­cial­ist units, and the ex­per­tise that larger re­fer­ral hos­pi­tals have.

‘‘De­niliquin has been do­ing some mi­nor surg­eries, and we do not ex­pect to see a huge change at De­niliquin (as a re­sult of this di­rec­tive).

‘‘We will con­tinue to work with the doc­tors and the com­mu­nity on this.’’

Along with Joy Allen, Mrs Burge has taken her con­cerns to NSW Pre­mier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian, new NSW Mem­ber for Mur­ray Austin Evans and Ed­ward River Coun­cil and is now push­ing for in­vest­ment to up­grade De­niliquin Hos­pi­tal and re­in­state ser­vices lost over a num­ber of years.

De­niliquin’s ru­ral health clas­si­fi­ca­tion must also be changed, she said, as it lim­its our abil­ity to at­tract and re­tain med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als.

‘‘We must im­me­di­ately al­lo­cate $30 mil­lion to $40 mil­lion to up­grade the De­niliquin Hos­pi­tal to a major med­i­cal fa­cil­ity,’’ Mrs Burge said.

‘‘The district pop­u­la­tion that may use De­niliquin Hos­pi­tal, if you in­clude Moama, is nearly 20,000, and De­niliquin is the ge­o­graph­i­cal cen­tre of the area so it makes sense to in­vest in our hos­pi­tal.

‘‘We need to in­clude a full-time po­si­tion of a med­i­cal reg­is­trar, en­abling our un­der re­sourced doc­tors to be able to have a night off oc­ca­sion­ally.

‘‘We need to use ini­tia­tive and cre­ate a major out­back train­ing fa­cil­ity suited to ru­ral nurses and doc­tors, and to start look­ing after the peo­ple of ru­ral New South Wales.

‘‘The De­niliquin Hos­pi­tal in its ex­ist­ing sur­face area used to house 109 beds and con­sult­ing rooms, and it re­quires ur­gent con­fig­u­ra­tion to re­turn it to the fa­cil­ity it should be.

‘‘We need to up­grade the hos­pi­tal straight away and we need full-time ma­ter­nity ser­vices with ded­i­cated mid­wives.

‘‘We need to im­me­di­ately al­lo­cate a po­si­tion for a full-time domi­cil­iary mid­wife and en­able them to travel fur­ther than the 30 kilo­me­tre ra­dius re­stric­tion currently in place, to ser­vice an area with a 100 kilo­me­tre ra­dius and most women who will be birthing at De­niliquin.’’

Mrs Burge ac­knowl­edges some of the is­sues at De­niliquin Hos­pi­tal are caused by MLHD’s tight bud­get, but she said money needs to stop be­ing used as an ex­cuse.

‘‘It is no longer ac­cept­able to state that fund­ing is the is­sue; the De­niliquin Hos­pi­tal has had min­i­mum fund­ing over the past 15 years in com­par­i­son to other smaller fa­cil­i­ties within the Mur­rumbidgee Lo­cal Health District.

‘‘There’s been multi-mil­lion dol­lar in­vest­ments at Hol­brook and Cul­cairn, both of which are closer to fa­cil­i­ties at Wagga and Al­bury.

‘‘We have to fix all of this now, be­fore the health sys­tem col­lapses.’’

Mrs Burge said Pre­mier Bere­jik­lian has given a prom­ise that she would fur­ther in­ves­ti­gate the se­ries of is­sues at De­niliquin Hos­pi­tal.

Mr Evans ad­mit­ted he was ‘‘sur­prised’’ by the in­for­ma­tion put to him by Mrs Burge, and said he’s al­ready seek­ing a meet­ing with MLHD chief ex­ec­u­tive Jill Lud­ford.

‘‘After meet­ing with Shirlee Burge and Joy Allen (on Tues­day) I have made a point of ask­ing peo­ple their thoughts in all other meet­ings I’ve had in De­niliquin,’’ he said.

‘‘I think one of the things that needs to hap­pen first is to get some­one from De­niliquin on the Mur­rumbidgee Lo­cal Health District board and en­sure lo­cal con­cerns are be­ing heard.

‘‘In re­gards to the up­grade push, I need to ex­plore more and un­der­stand what is re­quired.

‘‘Ser­vices and staffing is the most crit­i­cal thing. From what I un­der­stand the re­sponse to ques­tions about ser­vices is com­monly there is no de­mand for a par­tic­u­lar ser­vice.

‘‘I do be­lieve those fig­ures are skewed with the num­ber of peo­ple be­ing forced to seek treat­ment across the border, so we need to track if health statis­tics at other fa­cil­i­ties are listed by post­code on the Medi­care sys­tem.

‘‘I also be­lieve there are some im­prove­ments that can be made to the re­cruit­ing process, in­clud­ing the time it takes to get through the pro­cesses.’’

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