More patients for Lismore clinic
A PROPOSAL to save the Lismore Pain Clinic and increase the number of patients it treats by 50 per cent, was presented to the North Coast Area Health Services last week by the clinic’s management.
Multi-Disciplinary Pain Management Clinic director Dr Frank Wagner said he hoped the increase in numbers of patients and the recent doubling of the Medicare rebate the hospital receives for treating each chronic pain patient would persuade area health to keep the clinic open.
“The proposal would increase the number of patients and would increase the revenue for the hospital,” Dr Wagner said.
A spokesman for area health service chief executive Chris Crawford yesterday confirmed the proposal would be considered as part of the review that is being undertaken. It is expected to be completed by early in the new year.
The Northern Star reported last month that the future of the multi-disciplinary pain clinic that employs 6.5 full-time equivalent staff may effectively close.
News of the review prompted a large number of letters to the editor from current and former patients calling for the clinic to remain fully staffed.
Dr Wagner yesterday urged the health service to trial the new proposal.
“The recommendation to carry out this option would maintain current staffing levels within the multi-disciplinary pain management clinic and should be trailed,” he said.
“The longer term recommendation would be to expand the clinic and increase inflow of patients.”
The numbers of patients who use the pain clinic remain in dispute with figures previously provided to this newspaper by people familiar with the clinic putting the number of patients at 146 last year with 1170 reviews, and a waiting list of 250 people.
However, Mr Crawford has maintained only 105 patients used the service last year.
However, Dr Wagner it has taken a long time to build the specialists knowledge of staff that could be lost if the centre is closed or downgraded.
“Contemplate the sobering fact that all of us will be on the receiving end of an illness at some stage of our lives,” he said.