Patients turned away from Casino hospital
THE North Coast Area Health Service yesterday failed to quash rumours that the Casino and District Memorial Hospital had been without a doctor for most of the week.
The Northern Star has been told staff at the hospital have been forced to turn away the town’s sick and injured for three days this week – telling them to go to Lismore Base Hospital or Kyogle Memorial Hospital for emergency medical treatment because there was no doctor available at Casino.
The Star was told yesterday morning by a person at the hospital there was again no doctor on deck, but was unable to confirm whether the hospital was without a doctor for the entire day.
The Star yesterday asked the North Coast Area Health Service to confirm or deny the rumour and to clarify the hospital’s position.
In an email sent shortly after 9am, the area health service was asked whether the Casino Hospital had been without a doctor during the past week, the dates the hospital had been without a doctor, any known future dates when the hospital was expected to be without a doctor, why the hospital was sometimes without a doctor and what the area health service was doing to ensure appropriate staff were available at the hospital.
Despite repeated phone calls throughout the day, by last night the health service had answered none of the questions.
This is the second time in recent months the health service’s ability to staff Casino Hospital with doctors has been called into question.
In September, The Star reported the case of Casino woman Rhonda Byrnes, who was told to go to Lismore Base Hospital to have her hand stitched because there was no doctor on duty.
At the time, a health service spokeswoman said a shortage of doctors meant occasionally there would be periods of time when there would be no doctor available at the hospital, but it was not a regular occurrence.
The health service recently employed a full-time medical officer at Casino in a bid to relieve pressure on the town’s doctors, who had been covering all the shifts at the hospital.