Scores of Byron Shire locals including doctors nurses are set to join a combined protest rally and march in Lismore tomorrow morning to protest closures and cutbacks at Mullumbimby, Bonalbo and Coraki Hospitals.
The big rally for the little hospitals, organised by concerned locals backed by health workers, will be addressed by federal MP for Page Janelle Saffin as well as local mayors.
It is part of a wider campaign against the loss or downgrading of medical services at the three hospitals, including the latest proposal to replace the overnight doctor at Mullumbimby hospital with a video conferencing system operated by a nurse with a link to a doctor at Tweed Hospital.
Richmond MP Justine Elliot this week backed the campaign, describing the cost-cutting measures by state health authorities at Mullumbimby as ‘heartless’. Ms Elliot called on the three local state members, Geoff Provest, Don Page and Thomas George, to ‘start doing their jobs and stop cutting funding to vital health services to the north coast’.
A public protest meeting this week in Mullumbimby attended by more than 100 people called for a halt to the planned downgrade of the hospital’s medical services and any loss of staff.
A veteran doctor in the town told the meeting if the hospital lost its night doctor it would be most unlikely to get it back and unable to maintain 24-hour services, leading to the eventual demise of the hospital.
Nurses say the new system, to be put in place from 1 July, would not be cost efficient as claimed because the cost of transfers of patients to other hospitals would negate any expected savings from the budget measure.
The rally and march on Saturday starts at 9.45am, assembling near the Baptist church just up the hill from Lismore Base Hospital.