During the Christmas and New Year period, Condobolin will not have a doctor on call to service the needs of the community.
Brenshaw Medical Centre will be closed from 24 December 2020 until 4 January 2021, while Condobolin Aboriginal Health Service could be closed for longer, possibly for two weeks. Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) has also confirmed there will be no doctors or Visiting Medical Officer (VMO) servicing the Condobolin Hospital during this time.
Residents are urged to organise the scripts they need, as a doctor will be unable to provide these during the time the medical practices are closed.
The Condobolin Argus contacted WNSWLHD to ask them what provisions have been put in place for the town. In a statement, WNSWLHD, said it was not the responsibility of NSW Health to provide general practice services and that locums were too difficult to source to take over VMO duties during such times.
This is a statement, in full, provided by WNSWLHD.
“In small hospitals, doctors are employed as Visiting Medical Officers. VMOs are doctors who are General Practitioners in private practice, who are sufficiently qualified, and willing, to undertake work at a hospital.
“The provision of general practice services is not the responsibility of NSW Health.
“When VMOs are unavailable, including when they take leave for holidays, one alternative is for a locum doctor to be used to provide services for the hospital. Locums, who are essentially contractors, are increasingly difficult to source, even with remuneration of thousands of dollars a day.
“When doctors are not available in smaller hospitals in the Western NSW Local Health District, there is a highly sophisticated network of virtual medical support available around the clock. This includes vCare, which provides high level medical support and transport co-ordination, and the Virtual Rural Generalist Services (VRGS) that provides medical support for less urgent cases.
“Both these services work with the team at the patient’s bedside to support diagnosis, treatment and, when needed, transfer to another hospital. It is always preferable to have an appropriately qualified doctor working as part of that bedside team however, when this is not possible, our nursing teams are skilled and very experienced working in tandem with virtual medical services.
“It is currently the case that a doctor will not be physically onsite at Condobolin Health Service from 24 December to 4 January.
“If any Condobolin resident has concerns about the management of ongoing health conditions during this period, they are encouraged to discuss this with their GP before Christmas and take precautions such as having sufficient medication available, and following any relevant health alerts. If they do require assistance through a hospital emergency department, the health service team will be available, as will virtual medical support.
“A NSW parliamentary inquiry was established on 16 September 2020 to inquire into and report on health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional and remote New South Wales.
“NSW Health will be making a submission to the Inquiry addressing the terms of reference and incorporating input from local health districts.
“The NSW Government is investing $2.8 billion in a record workforce boost of 8300 frontline hospital staff, including 5000 nurses and midwives, with 45 per cent of those for regional and rural areas. “Since 2012, the NSW Health workforce in rural and regional areas has increased by 7,502 full-time equivalents (FTE) to 43,928 – an increase of 20.6 per cent. The number of doctors employed within NSW Health in rural and regional areas over this period has increased by 1,438 to 4,773 FTE – 43 per cent more than in 2012.
“In 2019-20, more than a third of the health infrastructure budget – over $900 million – was allocated to regional and rural health infrastructure. In addition to investing in workforce and infrastructure, new and innovative models of care, such as the $21.7 million NSW investment in Telestroke, are also improving access to specialised clinical advice and care for patients in regional, rural and remote locations.”