SOS Upper Clarence Health Committee has been outraged over a decision made by Northern NSW Local Health District to close Bonalbo Hospital Emergency Department at nights.
The hospital's only doctor recently retired and the forthcoming closure, to take effect from April 23 every night 11pm-7am, will be enacted, even though the committee says it was told by Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Christopher Crawford it would remain open.
"The committee feels misled because health executives sat at a committee meeting and the whole committee heard him (Mr Crawford) say we wouldn't lose the service," committee member Liz Andrews said.
Mr Crawford said the Bonalbo Hospital night shift would be removed because the cost of staff outweighed the number of patients being treated.
"During February 2012, the latest available data showed that no patients who required treatment on the night shift, attended Bonalbo Hospital," he said.
However, Ms Andrews claimed Northern NSW Local Health District based its decision on one month of figures, which she believed was inadequate.
Ms Andrews claimed Northern NSW Local Health District had not offered concrete alternatives to replace the service.
"At the meeting it was suggested alternatives would be offered but they gave us no outline of what these measures would be," Ms Andrew said.
"The department is not prepared to provide the detail until we accept the measures, even though we don't know what they are."
While Mr Crawford said the Bonalbo ambulance would sufficiently cater for the area at nights, Ms Andrews disagreed.
"We've got to have somewhere we can go because we've only got one ambulance on duty at any time. If it gets called out to a job at Lismore, we're left with no emergency care for hours," Ms Andrews said.
"It's an isolated community and people don't have the resources or financial back-up to make their own arrangements.
"We'd like to know what else they're going to do because they've not been honest with us right from the beginning."
Mr Crawford said other Bonalbo Hospital services would not be scaled back.
DOES BONALBO HOSPITAL NEED AN AFTER-HOURS EMERGENCY SERVICE? Leave a comment below.
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