Topics:  doctor, emergency, health, hospital, nurses, video conferencing

Nurses take action

A PROPOSAL to replace Mullumbimby Hospital's emergency department doctor with a video-conferencing system at nights has prompted local nurses to take action.

During a meeting at the hospital on Saturday, nurses discussed the implications of the new proposal with NSW Nurses Association representatives and resolved to send letters to North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford asking him to engage in discussions with them and to NSW Minister for Health Jillian Skinner calling on her to "intervene" if the hospital's services were scaled back.

"[Hospital management] had a meeting with some nurses but hasn't consulted more widely, especially with the union," NSW Nurses Association organiser Nola Scilinator said.

"We're concerned if the service transfers patients out it might cause more problems for ambulances and other doctors," she said.

However, Mr Crawford said a medical officer at Byron Bay Hospital would also assist patients admitted to Mullumbimby Hospital during nights.

On April 27, Mullumbimby Hospital staff were told the changes would save money, but the recent closure of Bonalbo Hospital's emergency department at nights for the same reason has led nurses to fear further scaling back of services.

"[The letters are] also about finding out what the future holds for small hospitals," Ms Scilinator said.

Mr Crawford said on average two patients were admitted to Mullumbimby Hospital each night and they could easily be assessed by doctors at Tweed Heads and Byron Bay via the video-conferencing technology.

He also said results from future consultations would be considered before a decision to remove the doctor was made.



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