Allied health services at hospitals around the region are at breaking point, according to the Health Services Union, with the Tweed Hospital among the worst hit.
While emergency department waiting times have improved at the hospital, Echonetdaily understands that waiting times for physiotherapy services are so long that they threaten the outcomes of some operations.
Patients are routinely waiting up to 12 weeks to see a hospital staff physiotherapist, or being told they should pay to visit a private physio, which can cost upwards of $80 a visit.
Ideally physiotherapy should start in seven to 10 days after a joint operation and sooner after major trauma surgery.
Echonetdaily understands the situation is similar in other allied health disciplines, such as social work, dietetics, occupational therapy and radiography.
After visiting major north coast hospitals this week, HSU secretary Gerard Hayes said job vacancies are remaining unfilled and administrators are relying on the goodwill of exhausted workers to fill the gap.
‘Our members are burning out because they are trying to do everything they can to support the community. Many of [them] have had to work through their breaks to make sure that members of the public are looked after,’ he told ABC radio this morning.
‘There are just not enough physiotherapists to be able to treat patients rather than running from patient to patient doing the best that they can.’
My Hayes said the local health district needed to commit to having the correct number of staff in place to cover all the vacant positions.