The Tweed Hospital, Tweed Heads.
The Tweed Hospital, Tweed Heads. John Gass

Surgeons paying for own wi-fi

THE Tweed Hospital has such a poor internet connection that surgeons are forced to pay for their own wi-fi so they can reference information on procedures while operating.

On Thursday, when the Tweed Daily News met with surgeon Dr Stephen White, he had $50 ready to renew his internet subscription.

"I have never heard of this happening anywhere else," he said.

Other senior doctors at the facility have also confirmed they pay for their own internet access so they can access YouTube videos of medical procedures.

One ward director said he had looked up videos on his iPhone before a procedure.

Staff medical council chair Dr Ian McPhee said: "Most sites time-out before any practical tasks can be completed, such as filling out performance data for trainees, downloading journal articles, contributing to research and teaching.

"A critical issue is in the operating rooms where reference to such records can affect the course of a patient's treatment."

The council was forced to pay for Telstra cable and wi-fi, he said.

NNSW LHD chief executive Chris Crawford said he was aware "a number of doctors have needed to find 'work-around' ways to access YouTube".

Mr Crawford said the problem was being addressed with $60,000 approved in December to upgrade the wi-fi reach and the bandwidth.

This will occur in the next six months.

The NNSW LHD is also trialling new software to allow YouTube videos in the health and education categories, he said.

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