Richmond MP Justine Elliot has called for the retention of the overnight doctor at Mullumbimby Hospital, set to be replaced by a video link to Tweed Hospital operated by a nurse.
Her call comes in the leadup to this Thursday’s (August 2) public protest meeting, the third on the issue, at the Mullum High School auditorium at 7pm.
Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Chris Crawford and Ballina MP Don Page are expected to attend and address the meeting.
Last Thursday, Mrs Elliot was joined by Labor MLC spokesman for the Tweed, Walt Secord, during a recent visit to the emergency department at the hospital at the invitation of concerned medical staff.
She described photos sent to Echonetdaily of the new camera equipment for the upcoming trial of the new system as ‘the photos the O’Farrell Government did not want the media to see’.
‘After seeing the equipment, our support for the medical staff and the local community in their campaign to keep the overnight emergency department doctor has toughened,’ the two MPs said in a jopint statement.
‘We make no apologies for taking matters into our own hands as there is a cloak of secrecy around the O’Farrell Government and its decisions.’
They said the coalition government was cutting country health services and ‘that is why they are refusing to allow the media to see the video link and associated equipment’.
‘While we support e-health and improving communication access, it must never replace a doctor in country hospitals. It is an additional medical resource, not a replacement.
‘Parents with a sick child or a person injured at night needs to have the security of knowing that if they are rushed to Mullumbimby Hospital, there will be a doctor there, not a video camera.’
Save Our Hospital steering committee member Dr Liz Elliott said that a good showing of community at Thursday’s meeting ‘may well sway this process of chipping away at our beloved hospital’.
‘It seems that we are a test case for many smaller NSW hospitals, so our resolve
and that of the nurses’ is being watched by communities and politicians across NSW.
‘In a sense we are fighting for many rural communities. Hospitals built by years of community work should not be shut down for minor savings.
‘Would they close down a fire station if there were only a few fires a week? Hopefully the meeting will be short and strong.’