Surgery cancelled in dispute with doctors
By ZOE SATHERLEY
LISMORE Base Hospital is cancelling all elective surgery from tomorrow because of a dispute with 11 anaesthetists.
From tomorrow, surgery for non-lifethreatening procedures like hip and knee replacements, gall stones and removal of some tumours will be cancelled until further notice.
Emergencies will still be treated, as will the needs of birthing mothers ? with locums and four doctors not affected by the dispute being used to fill the gap.
North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford said the hospital hoped to have two theatres a day operating so urgent booked work, such as cancer surgery, could proceed as scheduled.
All other patients will have surgery rescheduled until the dispute is resolved.
At the heart of the dispute is a battle over wages and conditions.
For anaesthetists Dr Megan Gray and Dr David Scott today is their last at LBH. Their three-year contracts expire at the end of their shift.
Neither have been able to re-negotiate their contracts with the NSW Health Department.
Lismore MP Thom- as George said the Health Department should immediately offer to extend the doctors' contracts ? under their current terms ? and negotiate a settlement.
Mr Crawford said the health service had done that; offering a three-month contract extension to allow time to work out a new deal.