Hospital ‘scrambles for 100 doctors’ due to border closure
UPDATE, Thursday, 8.10am: FEAR of a second wave of COVID-19 is the reason behind the clamp-down on the Queensland's and NSW border which is preventing medical and healthcare workers from getting to work in Northern Rivers hospitals.
According to a Queensland Health spokesperson, "Queensland's health and economy can't afford a second wave - that's why we closed the border to New South Wales, the ACT and Victoria."
"We understand people who live close to the border may need to access Queensland for certain services, which is why we've established dedicated border zones that allow movement," the spokesperson said.
"NSW residents outside the dedicated border zone coming to Queensland for specialist medical care do not require an exemption but they must have a border pass and written support from their treating facility.
"The exemption specifically cites the example of children coming from NSW for specialist treatment at Queensland Children's Hospital as appropriate.
"It is already occurring."
Original story: "IT'S a political, not a medical, decision. The Queensland Government has shown through their actions they do not care about the health of people in NSW or about their own doctors."
Tough words, but Lismore paediatrician Dr Chris Ingall said such times call for plain speaking.
He's laying the blame for any "collateral damage of the health of local residents" squarely at the feet at Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
"The NNSWLHD is scambling to find these locums because over 100 doctors who live north of the border have been affected by this uncaring closure to medical personnel due to being unable to travel across the bubble," Dr Ingall said.
"The NNSWLHD executive are working around the clock and doing a terrific job in minimising the risk imposed on Northern Rivers residents and patients with the Queensland government's decision to close the border.
"There's been no community transmission on the Northern Rivers, this is clearly a political stunt as the medical perspective holds no water whatsoever."
Dr Ingall's comments were made ahead of NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard admitting the border closure was made by the Queensland government without consulting NSW Health.
Mr Hazzard said "common sense has to prevail", in relation to the 100 doctors living in Queensland who cannot get to work at Lismore Base Hospital due to border restrictions.
Mr Hazzard said he had been in touch with his counterpart in Queensland to find a solution.
Meanwhile, Dr Ingall said the decision by Premier Palaszczuk will have a "terrible impact on both doctors and patients".
"It means patients who have a long-term relationship with a GP who knows their medical history and condition has been cut off," he said.
"They'll have no surety they will be able to see a doctor in Newcastle or Sydney, as these books could be full already, in fact it will be faster for them to drive to Bourke instead."
Dr Ingall said Queensland Health "has effectively short-sheeted our doctors' cohort by increasing the demand here for appointments, scripts and medications".
Lismore MP Janelle Saffin said she was deeply concerned about locals needing ongoing medical treatment in Queensland.
"My office has been flooded with calls from concerned locals and am making representation to NSW government and their counterparts in Queensland," she said.