Closure of beds delayed

THE impending closure of 12 beds in the Tweed and Murwillumbah hospital has been delayed indefinitely, North Coast Area Health Service boss said yesterday. Speaking to the Tweed Daily News, NCAHS chief executive Chris Crawford said the decision was on hold while he met with nurses to explain his position. Mr Crawford said the plan to convert six beds each in Tweed and Murwillumbah hospitals was a well-thought-out initiative designed to provide better services to the community. “We have been planning this for nine months,” Mr Crawford said. “We are not cutting beds. “They will be available to be used on a needs basis and it will be up to local management to decide.” Deflecting calls for his resignation from Tweed MP Geoff Provest and a host of other punters, Mr Crawford said he was determined to continue in his position. “I will continue to work hard to implement good policies and strategies for the area,” he said. “Calling for my resignation every time something happens is a knee-jerk reaction which is not productive.” The embattled ceo said creating “surge beds” would provide hospitals with greater flexibility to treat those patients most in need. Mr Crawford said recently “boosted” community care services would be called upon to provide care for the “chronically and mildly ill” at home. However, The Tweed Hospital Medical Staff council chairman Dr Nic Crampton said community services around the Tweed were hopelessly under-resourced and could not handle increase in demand. “In my 30 years of service I have never heard of “surge beds”, Dr Crampton said. “This is new admin speak for budget cuts.” He said some people were better off being in the community than in the hospital, but the decision had to come from the treating clinician. “Treating people in a community setting requires a complex model with adequate number of doctors, nurses and ancillary staff,” he said. “I have not seen any evidence of that in the Tweed. It would dangerous to send people home without proper support.” In fact, he said, the Tweed network, which includes Tweed Heads, Murwillumbah, Byron and Mullumbimby, lacked a crucial “hospital-in-the-home” service. “More than 12 months ago The Tweed Hospital’s executive officer, Associate Professor Trish Hogan applied to the NSW Health for funding but we still haven’t heard back,” he said. “The Tweed Hospital runs on 108 per cent capacity. I’d like to know how Mr Crawford can justify quarantining six beds. “We need more beds, not less.”

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