Facebook highlights hospital shortages

A DIRE lack of staff and resources at Inverell hospital has sparked a social media campaign calling on local MPs to address the problem. 

Inverell resident Lauren Carson started the “Inverell hospital needs more staff and resources” Facebook page after she went to emergency with an injured ankle but found there were no doctors on duty or on call. 

“I was sent away hopping and told to come back in the morning,” Miss Carson said. 

“It wasn’t until I injured myself and had to go to the hospital to be treated that I saw for myself how bad things really were.”

She was urged by a nurse at the hospital to speak up about the lack of staff and resources to make MPs aware of the situation. 

The page struck a chord with the Inverell community and garnered 400 “likes” within a week.  Chief concerns expressed by anonymous nurses and contributors to the page included the lack of doctors on call and the unavailability of surgical services, CT scans and ultrasound after hours, forcing patients to be transferred to Armidale or Tamworth. 

Hunter New England Health Tablelands Cluster general manager Wendy Mulligan said it was a continual battle to recruit skilled doctors to Inverell hospital and other rural areas, and there were periods where no visiting medical officers are available at the hospital. 

“In these instances, anyone who presents to the emergency department is assessed by highly skilled nurses. If they’re deemed urgent they are taken by ambulance to Armidale hospital,” Ms Mulligan said. 

She said senior medical officers can provide instruction to nurses over telephone and video-link, and general radiography services are available during the day, with a radiographer on call after hours.

The hospital currently has an arrangement with the local radiology practice to provide CT and ultrasound services, but after hours service is not always possible. 

“Patients requiring CT or ultrasound urgently after hours that cannot be accommodated at the private practice are transferred to Tamworth or Armidale,” Ms Mulligan said.

Miss Carson said staff had confided in her their frustration at being over-worked  and under resourced. 

“The staff at the hospital really are lovely and do the best they can. They need more staff and medical equipment to be able to run more efficiently and effectively,” she said. 

“I think it’s so important for Inverell to have a better facilitated hospital - the time it takes to be transferred to another hospital could be a matter of life or death.”

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