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Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

Mullum hospital to lose night doctor

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Mullumbimby hospital will lose its overnight doctor in July and emergency patients will be faced with communicating to a medical officer via a specially developed video hookup, the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNLHD) has confirmed.

Under the new system, patients presenting to the Mullumbimby Hospital after 10 o’clock at night would be assessed by a doctor based at Tweed Hospital. Alternatively, the night medical officer at Byron Hospital could tend to them.

The system, called Connecting Critical Care, has already been trialled within the Coffs Clarence and Hastings Macleay networks ‘where all centres offered a high-density population and each network contained a base hospital,’ according to the Australian Centre for Health Care Innovation.

The move comes on the back of the closure of the Campbell Hospital at Coraki and the night-time closure of the emergency department at Bonalbo.

Plans are already well under way, with Ballina MP Don Page telling local media that there would be a five-month trial of the system and that he believed $145/hr paid to overnight doctors could be better spent at Mullumbimby.

Echonetdaily understands an average of two patients per night attend the Mullumbimby Hospital emergency department.

Nurses will meet tomorrow to discuss the issue.

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  1. This is outrageous! Many of the people who presented to Mullum emergency department in the wee small hours when I was on the after hours GP roster had already spent a substantial amount of time at home debating whether they were sick enough to need to come in, then had organised transport/childcare so they could get in and by the time we saw them had often deteriorated further due to these understandable delays. If they are then triaged as needing urgent medical care there will be yet another delay arranging that which could well compromise their safety. I also think it places far too much burden on the already understaffed nurses and ignores the fact that medical care is provided by a team. I well know how hard it was for the emergency nurse to actually be present in ED to assist me when needed when (for instance) there was a birth imminent and a very sick patient on the wards requiring their attendance to help the midwife and ward nurses out. What would the community members who raised the funds to build this hospital think!!


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