Tenterfield Hospital.
Tenterfield Hospital. The Northern Star/Mary Warwick

Tenterfield Hospital: neglectful bullies?

A NEW mother was left lying on bloody sheets for days at Tenterfield Hospital and then bullied by hospital staff when her family lodged a complaint about her treatment, the woman's sister has said.

Goonellabah resident Janine Binge said she was shocked when she arrived at Tenterfield Hospital on Friday last week to find her sister lying in bloody sheets.

Patricia Binge had given birth the previous Monday in Stanthorpe Hospital, across the border in Queensland, and transferred to Tenterfield Hospital on Tuesday, September 9. Janine Binge said when she arrived several days later and queried the state of her sister's sheets Patricia told her they had not been changed since her admission.

"She had just had a baby and she was lying in blood-stained sheets with the new baby," Janine said.

Janine said Patricia told her she had felt too embarrassed to ask nursing staff to change the sheets.

Janine said when she complained to staff about the sheets they were changed quickly, but she was also challenged by another nurse 'demanding to know who had upset her nursing staff'.

Another Binge sister, Teena, who works for the Lismore Aboriginal Health Service, lodged a complaint with the Hunter New England Health Service, which is responsible for Tenterfield Hospital, about Patricia's treatment.

However, Teena said that when Patricia arrived at the hospital this week for a check-up, she was taken into an office and pressured to have her sister withdraw the complaint.

Teena said Patricia said she was told the hospital would close and she would be responsible for the loss of health care services unless the complaint was withdrawn.

The Northern Star tried to speak with Patricia directly about her experience at the hospital. However, her sisters said she was too upset about the pressure that had been put on her to speak about it. When we tried calling Ms Binge we were greeted with an answering machine message saying 'I don't want to talk to anyone'. Patricia did not return our calls.

Tenterfield Health Service Manager Julie Kirk denied Patricia spent a week lying in soiled sheets, saying Patricia had spent only three days at the hospital and 'we maintained a high standard of cleanliness and patient care at all times'.

"We treat patient complaints very seriously and we have contacted the patient to speak to her about the matter. She was satisfied that we had addressed her concerns.

Hunter New England Health Tablelands Cluster General Manager Wendy Mulligan said she understood Patricia was satisfied and that all patients cared for by Hunter New England Health staff received the best possible care.

A spokeswoman for Northern Tablelands State MP Richard Torbay said the MP had asked the health service for a briefing on the matter.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for NSW Health Minister John Della Bosca said the Hunter New England Area Health Service was 'taking the matter seriously'.

However, Mr Della Bosca's office failed to respond to specific questions about allegations of bullying.

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