Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) have said they are actively working to ensure there is doctor coverage at Condobolin Health Service over the Christmas and New Year period. They said locums can be difficult to source but there was a “highly-sophisticated network of virtual medical support available around the clock to support the team of bedside staff.” Image Credit: Melissa Blewitt.

MEDICAL SERVICES COVERAGE FOR CONDOBOLIN

As the community enters the Christmas and holiday period, the community has raised questions in relation to staffing arrangements at Condobolin Health Service and other medical facilities in town.

Condobolin Aboriginal Health Service will be closed from 4pm on Thursday, 23 December and will re-open on Monday, 10 January 2022. Brenshaw Medical (Melrose Street Medical Centre) will close 12 noon on Friday, 24 December and will re-open on Tuesday, 4 January 2022.

The Condobolin Argus contacted Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) to ask what arrangements would be in place for the Condobolin Health Service for the Christmas and Holiday season.

They responded that “the rostering of GP VMOs at Condobolin Health Service over the Christmas and New Year period is underway”; and that they were “actively working to ensure there is coverage at the facility during that time.”

WNSWLHD said that clinical staff often take “the opportunity to take well-deserved breaks and it can be difficult to provide coverage 24/7 for local hospitals as there are not enough GPs to provide a roster which is safe for patients and for healthcare workers.”

They added “Locums can be difficult to source, even when generous remuneration arrangements are in place,” and that when “doctors are not available in smaller hospitals in the WNSWLHD, there is highly-sophisticated network of virtual medical support available around the clock to support the team of bedside staff.”

The following is a Media Statement from Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) printed in full.

“It is the Federal Government’s responsibility to ensure access to primary care and General Practitioners (GPs),” a Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) spokesperson said.

“GPs willing to undertake work in small, rural hospitals are employed by Local Health Districts as Visiting Medical Officers (VMOs).

“Condobolin has access to GPs and primary care in the community, and Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) currently employs two GP VMOs at Condobolin Health Service who provide services to the facility on alternating rosters.

“The rostering of GP VMOs at Condobolin Health Service over the Christmas and New Year period is underway.

“WNSWLHD is actively working to ensure there is coverage at the facility during that time.

“Over that period, clinical staff often take the opportunity to take well-deserved breaks and it can be difficult to provide coverage 24/7 for local hospitals as there are not enough GPs to provide a roster which is safe for patients and for healthcare workers.

“A single doctor cannot be on call every day, every night and every weekend – it is not sustainable for them or their patients.

“When GP VMOs are not available, an alternative is for a locum doctor to provide services for the hospital.

“Locums can be difficult to source, even when generous remuneration arrangements are in place.

“When doctors are not available in smaller hospitals in the WNSWLHD, there is highly-sophisticated network of virtual medical support available around the clock to support the team of bedside staff.

“Virtual care services give rural health services access to experienced doctors across a range of medical specialities, who work with the bedside team to support diagnosis, treatment, admission and, when needed, transfer to another hospital.

“Virtual care services are utilised successfully around the world and in Western NSW have been used in various forms since 2006. Virtual care is in place to support staff, not to replace local doctors.

“Between mid-2012 and mid-2021, WNSWLHD increased its workforce by an additional 614 full-time equivalent staff – an increase of 12.8 per cent including 107 more doctors, 210 more nurses and midwives and 71 more allied staff.

“The 2021-22 budget for WNSWLHD is $1 billion, an increase of $45 million on the previous year’s budget,” the statement concluded.

Last Updated: 22/12/2021By

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