GP is sickened by closure

CORAKI DOCTOR Rosie Craig says, as the only GP in town, she is saddened to see people who need hospital services can't access them locally.

The Campbell Hospital at Coraki has been closed for 22 weeks since hail damaged its roof. It has not been repaired and residents fear the hospital may not re-open.

Residents and medical staff are concerned about changes in hospital security also.

Dr Craig is out of pocket since her work as one of two on-call doctors at the hospital dried up - but she said she didn't take a job in Coraki for the money.

"I wanted to provide this community with the medical services it needed," a tearful Dr Craig told The Northern Star.

"Obviously the people who are making the decision to keep the hospital closed don't live in Coraki or know the effects of their actions.

"The Local Health District is very rude and disrespectful towards the people of Coraki and don't have their interests at heart."

Dr Craig's partner, Gerard Criss, is the Coraki Medical Centre's practice manager and president of the Save the Coraki Hospital committee, which held a public meeting attended by hundreds of people in the town last week.

"We have a total lack of faith in (Local Health District chief executive) Chris Crawford and the board," Mr Criss said.

"We're at a loss to understand why every other building in town has been fixed up since the hailstorm but the hospital has not been repaired since a box cutter overflowed and water got into the ceiling. We know of plumbers who are standing by ready to do the job."

Mr Criss said Coraki residents had expressed "anger, suspicion and frustration" at last week's meeting and had written to express their discontent to Chris Crawford, hospital board chairman Hazel Bridgett, and NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner.

A former security guard told The Northern Star yesterday there were real concerns about the withdrawal of in-house security services from Coraki.

The worker, who did not want to be named, had attended the meeting and supported the call for the Local Health District to make public its infrastructure report, appoint an independent engineer to make a report on the roof damage, and to re-establish adequate security services at the hospital.

"We don't think they're interested in fixing it up," he said.

"They just want to close it. There had been a move to keep at least the Emergency Department open, because it hadn't been damaged - but they wouldn't do it."

Vahid Saberi, of the Northern NSW Local Health District, said a complete review of the hospital's infrastructure had been commissioned and when completed, a report would be submitted to the board.

He said it was essential the building and hospital grounds were safe and met OH&S regulations, and that equipment and fittings were in good working condition.



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