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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Mullum doctor plan panned

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Access to a doctor in an emergency is a basic human right for all Australians. This is not America. Not yet. We cannot allow two otherwise anonymous bean-counters (Chris Crawford chief executive Northern Health District and Tim Free) to take away that right for all of us who rely on Mullum hospital and a doctor on call to be there if there is a life-threatening emergency at night.

The bureaucrats tell us that on average only two emergencies a night present themselves at Mullum hospital. That ignores that one night there could be six to 10 people needing emergency treatment (eg the Blues Festival or Splendour). But because we only on average see two emergency patients a night, we’re told it is not enough economic justification for having a doctor on standby.

We’re told by a non-medically-trained bureaucrat that a nurse taking instructions over a video camera from a doctor in a distant location can perform basic emergency procedures. Failing that, the patient can be transferred to Tweed Hospital, 40 minutes’ dash away by ambulance. What are the economic rationalists saving here? Lives… or a miserable $11 an hour the doctor is paid (plus a flat fee of $70 per patient seen) for being on standby? Do they not factor in the cost of an ambulance ($1,000 plus) to whizz the poor sufferer up to the Tweed?

Do the paper-shufflers have no consideration for putting the dedicated nursing staff we have in this area in the firing line for possible litigation if something goes wrong because they don’t have the same honed-up skills that a doctor has? Will Northern Health District take care of that poor nurse’s legal bills and peace of mind if she is sued?

Where is the community consultation in all this? Our taxes pay for these men’s salaries but they don’t have the decency to consult with the community. We’re told that’s what’s going to happen and cop it sweet. Sorry. That’s not an option. We won’t take it lying down. We like our local hospital and all those who work diligently in it to look after our community.

I wonder how Chris Crawford would feel if his child had an accident and needed a doctor at night-time? I wonder how he’d feel about being put in an ambulance and shunted life-threatening extra miles and time up to the Tweed?

David Bradbury, Wilsons Creek.


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  1. I agree whole heartedly David.
    I could not add up all the after hours visits my family have needed over the years to Mullumbimby Hospital. I have never been the only patient waiting for a doctor. On some occasions the waiting area was full.
    I’m sure if the sums were done correctly it would not only prove to be more economical to maintain the current status of a doctor on call, but it would also be more convenient and humane for potential patients of Mullumbimby.


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