No antivenin at Byron Central Hospital

David Bradbury, Wilsons Creek

It was disturbing to read of Sue Harrison’s shabby treatment at Byron hospital owing to lack of staff on duty (Echo, February 8). It’s not staff’s fault. We were promised the world with our new hospital by Northern Rivers Health chief Chris Crawford, who rode over local opposition with his ‘Big is Best’ grand plans, then retired on a golden-handshake super to join his wife on her six-digit state parliamentary income plus perks as our MLC.

All courtesy of us the mug taxpayers. Leaving our fast-growing community a hospital with no theatre, no helipad, unable to guarantee local new mums a bed for delivery in the new maternity wing. Not even able to afford to have on hand any deadly-snake antivenin. Or staff trained in how to use it.

Two weeks ago, friend George Kyprianou, a fit firefighter from Brunz, was bitten by a baby tiger snake on our Wilsons Creek property while helping me put away the chooks. After 20 minutes he knew something was wrong as his breathing and heart pace quickened and he broke out into a sweat.

His wife drove him straight to Byron hospital where he was immediately put onto the machines and monitored. After six hours George was transferred by ambulance to the Tweed at 3am. No poisonous snake antivenin at Byron, he was told. ‘Too expensive’ and it has a short shelf life. Cost of the antivenin? $300.

In our old hospital in Mullum, much quicker reached than Byron now, antivenin was on hand because we are surrounded by snake territory. When a child dies from a bite from a deadly brown, a Clarence roughscale or tiger snake, will State Health then allow Byron hospital to stock the antivenin?

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