Tenterfield Hospital may be without a doctor this weekend. The usual medical officer is on leave, and Hunter New England Health is struggling to find a locum medical officer to cover for them from Thursday to Monday.
Susan Heyman, Hunter New England Health's executive director, Rural and Regional Health Services, reassured the public that they were trying to find a doctor; and that staff in regional hospitals would monitor the patients and transfer them to larger institutions, if necessary.
The medical officer is taking a short break, Ms Heyman said. In the MO's absence, locums will provide coverage for the period of leave.
"Unfortunately, the locum we thought was providing medical coverage for the period Thursday, October 24 to Monday, October 28 has fallen through," Ms Heyman said.
Nearby General Practitioners are also available to provide additional support via Telehealth video conferencing technology, as part of the established Small Town After-Hours program, Ms Heyman said.
Should it be needed, staff at Armidale and Tamworth hospitals are also on standby to provide support to patients.
All emergency departments in the HNEH District have high resolution telehealth cameras installed that are remotely accessed, Ms Heyman said. For complex and very unwell patients, this means that a specialist doctor in Armidale, Tamworth, or John Hunter is able to observe the patient and the situation to direct appropriate care.
Should a patient require emergency care, Ms Heyman said, ambulance or private transport will transfer them to a larger facility.
If the patient is critically unwell, the hospital will retrieve them by road ambulance or by helicopter with on-board doctors.
The 2019 NSW Government budget committed $24 billion in recurrent funding as part of a record $26.7 billion health budget in the 2019/20 financial year.
NSW Health is finalising individual budget allocations with a focus on improving health services and patient care, supporting families and boosting jobs in regional and rural communities.