AMA head revives hospital merger idea

AUSTRALIAN Medical Association NSW president Professor Brian Owler revived the contentious idea of merging Batemans Bay and Moruya Hospital during a visit to the Eurobodalla this week.

“Amalgamating the two services is something to consider in the long term,” he said.

“With one bigger hospital you would have better resources, attract more doctors and be able to provide better patient care,” he said.

“Of course this would involve a lot of negotiating and needs community support and a big bucket of money.”

Professor Owler dined with doctors from Batemans Bay and Moruya Hospitals at Mogo on Tuesday night and toured Batemans Bay Hospital yesterday. 

He said he was impressed with the staff and the running of Batemans Bay Hospital, but believed that certain factors were limiting its capacity.

“It would be better to get someone based locally looking after the emergency department full-time,” he said.

“It would help the hospital with more consistently looking after people in the community and in the hospital.”

He said he recognised that the hospital needed more doctors based in the community for the long-term.

“You can get locums in, but they are very expensive,” Prof Owler said.

“You need to get more doctors here providing services so the few that are here don’t have to shoulder the burden. You also have an ageing workforce here too. We have to consider who is going to fill their shoes when they retire.”

He also said he wanted to help the Eurobodalla hospitals deal with the problems arising from the main tertiary reference hospital, Canberra Hospital, being in a different administrative area.

“I know that there are issues there with regards to infrastructure and I hope to be able to help with this,” he said.

“Another issue is that Batemans Bay Hospital doesn’t have a CT scanner, and Moruya Hospital doesn’t have one on site. It would be a big saving to the health system and improvement for patient care if they both had these scanners on site.”

Prof Owler said he would be taking these concerns to the NSW Health Ministry. 

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