Hopes of quick end to health crisis dim
By ALEX EASTON
HOPES of a quick end to the Lismore Base Hospital crisis dimmed yesterday with one anaesthetist announcing he would reject a new offer from the North Coast Area Health Service.
The rejection, from anaesthetist Neil Stokes, came as health service chief executive Chris Crawford said the new offers were getting a mixed reception from anaesthetists and surgeons.
Mr Crawford said he expected a firm response to the offer at a public meeting at the Lismore City Hall at 2pm today.
He stood by a guarantee to have surgery running normally by August 15, repeating plans to replace anaesthetists who rejected the offer with locums.
Dr Stokes said he could not accept the offer because it bypassed the crucial issue of pay.
He said anaesthetists had been also angered by a decision by the health service to block them from working as locums on the North Coast.
Mr Crawford said letting local anaesthetists work here as locums would be a back-door way of giving them the pay rise.
Mr Crawford said he was not authorised to allow the increase, which would bump up the hourly rate for anaesthetists from $175 an hour to up to $300. However, even if he were, he would not approve it; saying it would cost an extra $1.5 million at Lismore alone. It would also act as a precedent that would lead to big jumps in pay for anaesthe- tists and surgeons across NSW.