Sick system gets help


EXTRA emergency doctors are finally to be recruited for the beleaguered Murwillumbah District Hospital.

The move comes after it was revealed that a staff shortage had led to doctors being flown in from as far away as Alice Springs and Townsville.

The recruitment scheme, along with the introduction of overlapping shifts for doctors and plans to make the hospital a doctor training centre were announced yesterday.

It follows revelations in the Daily News last week that the shortage was so critical locums were being called in from interstate to man the staff the hospital each weekend.

North Coast Area Health Service chief executive officer Chris Crawford said the service had worked on the new arrangements with local GPs, who had become too busy in their own practices to visit the hospital, and emergency specialists.

He said the new structure would "improve services and assist with the workloads of local GPs", reducing their commitment to the emergency department roster while still allowing them to manage their patients in the hospital wards.

Mr Crawford said the service would recruit additional emergency medicine doctors who would work in conjunction with the existing emergency department at The Tweed Hospital in Tweed Heads.

Emergency and intensive care specialists at The Tweed Hospital will also provide enhanced clinical support to Murwillumbah Hospital.

"This will include access to specialists for clinical advice and consultation, as well as the development of a retrieval service to bring those specialists to the patient's bedside and, in particular, to enhance the management of trauma and critically ill patients," Mr Crawford said.

It is also planned to seek accreditation from the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine of Murwillumbah Hospital as a training site.

Mr Crawford said roster changes would also be implemented.

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