CRITICAL: Senior surgeon Dr Michael Ghusn urged the NSW Health Ministry to double the number operating theatres at the Tweed Hospital.
CRITICAL: Senior surgeon Dr Michael Ghusn urged the NSW Health Ministry to double the number operating theatres at the Tweed Hospital. Nolan Verheij-Full

Tweed surgeon: 'It's just not right'

BREAST CANCER patients are forced to transfer via taxi to the Robina Hospital on the day of their surgery for pre-operative tests, a senior Tweed Heads Hospital surgeon has told the Tweed Daily News.

"Because of a lack of medical services it's [treatment] very fragmented and patients have to travel to other hospitals to get the pre-medical services that they need, such as nuclear medicine," Dr Michael Ghusn said.

"If a woman comes in for surgery while fasting that day, she will have to catch a cab to be taken to Robina and come back just before the operation. It's not ideal, it should all be done at the same hospital," he said.

Dr Ghusn revealed abdominal surgery patients with profuse bleeding could not be treated and must wait up to three hours for a transfer.

"If someone has a stab wound then you know exactly where the blood comes from, you can deal with it, but if a patient comes in with gastro-intestinal bleeding it's not easily identifiable, then we need angiography to find that bleeding, so we have to transfer them to Gold Coast or Brisbane (hospitals).

"It's not right - for a hospital this size we need that service."

Surgeons are operating in half the number of theatres they need to service an 8% annual increase in patients, leading to bed blocks in all wards.

"It is very difficult for us to keep up with that workload during normal hours," Dr Ghusn said.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner's response was that clinicians should streamline their models of care until the Tweed Hospital's multi-million dollar redevelopment was funded.

She also said the Northern NSW Health District was responsible for allocating this funding.

Despite signing off on redevelopment plans in December 2013, the NNSWHD said the Tweed was not the top priority.

There will be a key meeting between Tweed MP Geoff Provest, Ms Skinner, and Tweed Medical Staff on January 23 about the future of the hospital.

Mr Provest this week hardened his criticism of the region's health board.

"The Tweed Hospital is my top priority and I'd obviously be a lot happier if the .... board shared that view, because my agenda is 100% for Tweed," Mr Provest said.

"The whole purpose of Local Health Districts which the Coalition introduced, was to give decision-making to local health experts and away from politicians and election campaigns.

"It is up to the board to explain its decisions."

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