A new plan is being considered to relieve the doctor shortage at Glen Innes hospital.
One possibility is to have a permanent arrangement with a staffing agency providing 24 hour, seven day a week doctor availability for the hospital, as happens in Inverell.
At the moment in Glen Innes, the hospital relies on local doctors who see their own patients in hospital and who also have a rota to cover for emergencies. But if there’s no local doctor available on the rota, patients are sent away or transferred to a bigger hospital, usually in Armidale.
There is weekend doctor cover at Glen Innes Hospital provided by temporary doctors who often fly in from Sydney at a fee of $5000 for the weekend. It’s not clear if the Inverell system is cheaper.
Deputy Mayor Carol Sparks said she knew of a recent case where someone went to Glen Innes hospital with an injured hand and was told there was no doctor available so the person who was in pain was told to come back on Monday.
Northern Tablelands MP, Adam Marshall, said he was seeking a solution. He said he had asked Hunter New England Health to “look at all the options to maintain 24/7 medical staff coverage of the hospital as is required and expected by me and the Glen Innes community.”
He added: “If it requires a solution similar to Inverell, then that is what Glen Innes should have”.
“There has to be 24/7 doctor coverage at the hospital. There’s no compromising on that”, he said.
He was to meet the health authority next week to discuss the options.
Cr Sparks said she was keeping up the pressure after 1,600 people signed a petition asking for a permanent 24 hour doctor at the hospital. ”I want to say to the people who signed the petition that I haven’t stopped lobbying the government and Adam Marshall”, she said.
“And I’m upping that to not just one 24 hour doctor. It’s two we need.
“And I want a doctor for Emmaville.”
She and Adam Marshall are to discuss the issue further.