The Murwillumbah Hospital.
The Murwillumbah Hospital.

Hospital phones removed

WHEN Carolyn Rose found a number of public phones out of order in Murwillumbah Hospital she told hospital authorities.

But instead of the phones being fixed, to her horror two were simply removed.

“I don't know if they intend to replace them,” said Ms Rose yesterday, who fears the hospital will be left with just one working public phone, in its rehabilitation ward.

“It seems they just assume everybody has mobiles these days. But older people don't, and we are all getting older.”

The Stokers Siding author found the hospital's public phones out of order when she accompanied her 85-year-old mother who had suffered a stroke to the hospital in an ambulance on Saturday.

“When I tried to ring my siblings and relatives in Northern NSW none of the four public phones at the hospital were working, and they have been out of order for months,” she said.

“I find this appalling.”

Ms Rose said two pub- lic Gold Phones were removed from the wards they were in on Wednesday.

Another public phone at the hospital entrance remained out of order, although one in the rehab ward was working.

Yesterday a North Coast Area Health Service spokesperson said a severe electrical storm which hit Murwillumbah in mid-July damaged the telecommunications infrastructure at the hospital, including one of the payphones.

She said parts were ordered in an attempt to repair the phone, but “unfortunately the phone was extensively damaged” and had been sent away for repair.

Yesterday afternoon an interim handset was installed, allowing the public to make a local call.

The spokesperson said the public could still use their mobile phones outside of the hospital.

In mid-November last year it was revealed that public phones at the hospital had been out of order for six weeks, forcing patients to search for others or go without contacting loved ones if they did not have a mobile.

At the time a spokesperson said the payphones were of an older model and Telstra had advised it would no longer service the units. He said the health service had bought two new units which, following negotiations with Telstra, were to be connected by November 24 last year.

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