MP wont support telehealth trial
BALLINA State MP Don Page now shares community concerns about the proposal to replace the emergency department doctor at Mullumbimby Hospital overnight with telehealth and has promised to raise them with State Health Minister Jillian Skinner.
Mr Page finally declared his hand at the third protest meeting against the proposal at Mullumbimby High School auditorium on Thursday night.
The meeting was also addressed by local health district CEO Chris Crawford, who put the case for telehealth.
Mr Page had earlier been challenged by The Save Mullum Hospital Steering Committee president Frank Lynch to give assurances that he would champion the community's cause.
Near the conclusion of the meeting Mr Page stepped up to the podium and listed off several misgivings about telehealth raised by locals that he believed were legitimate.
"I'm satisfied that there are serious outstanding concerns ...therefore at this stage I can't support the proposed (telehealth) trial," he said.
Mr Page's declaration prompted a huge round of applause from the 350-strong crowd, many of whom had earlier shared their own fears about replacing doctors with technology.
They included 12-year-old Ethan Diehm from Mullumbimby, who suffers from epilepsy and is a frequent visitor at the hospital's emergency dep-artment.
"I'm very worried about what will happen to me next time I have a seizure at night," Ethan told Mr Crawford.
"What if this was your family in this situation?"
Ethan's father Aaron Diehm said: "What right have you got to put my son and my family and members of this community in danger?"
Both Mr Crawford and Mr Page gave assurances that a telehealth trial would not proceed if nurses continued to oppose it.
Yesterday Mr Crawford told the Northern Star that he would be consulting clinicians for answers to doubts raised about telehealth at the meeting by Mr Page and others.