Concerns about Batemans Bay Hospital’s busy emergency department have emerged again, with both the Country Women’s Association and a doctor calling for more staff.
GP and visiting medical officer (VMO) Dr Andrew Gibson welcomed the appointment of an overnight doctor from Monday to Thursday and a career medical officer (CMO) on Fridays and Mondays, but said the department often was too busy for just one doctor to cope.
CWA secretary Maureen Kinross said she had received between 10 and 12 calls in the past few weeks from residents complaining about waiting times for both the emergency department and for GP appointments.
Dr Gibson said the department was getting busier.
“The VMOs are very concerned about the number of presentations and the staffing levels, both medical and nursing,” he said.
“We have a CMO now on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, which leaves a GP in the community, which means those people don’t turn up at the emergency department, but on many occasions more than one medical officer should be working.
He said staff coped “under duress”.
“I am not sure what the solution is; it may not be busy enough for two persons, maybe it is a one-and-a-half person (demand).
“Everybody believes it is a very busy emergency department and only going to get busier. Speaking to most of the doctors that come for four days, they say it is extremely busy and there have been some who say they won’t come back.
“We have been told that the health service is aware of the problem. We have not heard the solution yet, but we would expect them to do the right thing and be working on the problem, rather than waiting on a disaster, when someone leaves or something like that.”
Mrs Kinross said she was receiving phone calls from both within and outside the CWA urging her organisation to reschedule a postponed protest meeting.
“I have had about ten to 12 in the past month. They are asking us to recall the meeting and saying we need to do something about the doctor situation at the hospital.
“They are saying waiting times have blown out again and they are worried about the GPs being overworked.
“They are worried about the health of the GPs. They are saying what can we do?”
Meanwhile, Batemans Bay’s GP shortage worsened last month when Surf Beach GP Dr Graham Anderson retired due to ill health at the age of 70.