CASINO and District Memorial Hospital is continuing to regularly send patients to Lismore Base Hospital to be seen by a doctor for emergency medical treatment because there is no doctor available at the hospital.
State Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell said until the health service was willing to pay an ‘appropriate level’ of remuneration, the hospital would continue to struggle to find a doctor willing to work there.
Mr Cansdell said the service was currently paying exorbitant fees to fly in locum doctors from New Zealand and Townsville to work at the hospital.
He also said the health service needed to come up with a better roster system so Casino GPs would be more willing to work at the hospital.
A Casino resident, who did not want to be named, told The Northern Star that her son was sent to Lismore Base Hospital because no doctor was available at Casino to asses him after he experienced chest pain.
He was transported to Lismore in an ambulance, while his mother followed in her car.
“The situation at Casino is dangerous and unacceptable in a town as big as Casino, which services such a big population,” she said.
“We are being treated like second-class citizens.”
Richmond Valley mayor Col Sullivan said the council appreciated the effort the health service was making to try to find a doctor, but he was concerned about the strain the vacancy was placing on local doctors.
“We do need one (a doctor) urgently,” Cr Sullivan said.
Last year the health service employed a full-time medical officer, however, the doctor resigned after a short time.
Yesterday, the health service confirmed interviews for a medical officer at Casino had been held last month.
“It is anticipated that one applicant may be selected from this process,” a spokeswoman said.
The recruitment of a permanent medical officer would provide stable medical staffing for the hospital, she said.