Dr Liz Elliott, Mullumbimby
We can celebrate that Mullumbimby Hospital will not be left without a doctor at night! The proposed TeleHealth trial will not go ahead, according to the Area Health Board decision 28.11.12.
This is because there was unwavering rejection of the proposal by the nurses and their union, and massive support by the local community. Both groups are to be congratulated on sustained campaigning against the proposal.
Three large meetings of the community unanimously declared there should be no reduction in services at the hospital. Many persons who came to the meetings detailed their gratitude to the staff of the emergency department, and their recurring need for rapid local intervention. Who could forget 12-year-old Ethan standing up to say how the hospital has saved his life?
Other attendees detailed how there would be little economic saving and much dislocation and anxiety among patients and their families. Tourists and festival-goers will also benefit from ongoing casualty availability. Ambulance services will be less stressed.
Most importantly the ‘trial’ would have seen other smaller communities saddled with the machine-not-the-human approach to health.
The committee is also to be thanked, especially Frank Lynch our tireless chairman. Several politicians were helpful, especially Dr John Kaye of the Greens, mayors of Lismore and Byron, Ms Justine Elliott, and even Mr Don Page finally, eloquently, gave support to this hospital, a vital part of our community. The Echo, especially Luis Feliu, gave great coverage!
The TeleHealth machine has been installed and may occasionally prove to be useful, especially as a teaching aid and where doctors cannot be available.
Unfortunately, in this era of public service cuts, the assault on the hospital may not be over. We do need a national conversation on the sustainability of health services with an ageing population. However, cutting frontline services is not where the savings should be made!
Any of the generous money donations left over will be returned to the fabulous Hospital Auxiliary who have supported the hospital for decades. Again thanks to all the community members and nurses who defended our beloved hospital.