Murwillumbah Hospital.
Murwillumbah Hospital. File photo

Kids’ ward to stay open

THE North Coast Area Health Service yesterday moved to quash rumours that yet another section of Murwillumbah District Hospital could be temporarily closing down.

The service declared the children’s ward – which some doctors and hospital staff had feared would close for three weeks starting on Christmas Day – would remain open.

A spokesperson for the health service yesterday issued a short statement declaring:

“The Children’s Ward at Murwillumbah District Hospital will not be closing over the Christmas period.”

The promise was immediately welcomed by chair of the Medical Staff Council at the hospital, Murwillumbah GP Dr Shauna Purser, but she added: “I don’t know whether I believe it, because the nurse in charge was told to start re-organising staff”.

“I’m hoping it stays open and running fully and there is no reduction in the number of children treated there.

“The numbers of children coming into the children’s ward had been higher this year than last year”.

Dr Purser said hospital doctors would be “quite against” any temporary closure which would be very inconvenient for patients and their families.

Under any closure, she said, some children would have had to be transferred to The Tweed Hospital.

“Some families live at Tyalgum, Uki, Kunghur and further out,” she said.

“Some parents stay in the hospital with them, so some of the families would be separated for Christmas.”

Last week doctors said they were outraged by reported moves to close the maternity ward over November during a transition to a new system where low-risk births at the hospital are handled by midwives.

The situation became muddied over several days, with doctors convinced that despite the health service saying the unit would remain open expectant mothers were being told to go to The Tweed Hospital.

The Area Health Service denied any closure, but admitted “some low-risk births” were being transferred to The Tweed Hospital during the month.

Doctors said that amounted to all mothers expecting low-risk births during the month, with higher-risk pregnancies already being transferred to The Tweed Hospital.

As the argument wore, on deputy chair of the Medical Staff Council Doug Warne said it was time for the area health service to tell the truth that no deliveries at all will take place at the hospital in November.

He claimed in that case the service was “being very deceitful”.

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