Hospital services in the shire must be centralised or health care staff will continue to be spread too thinly and faculties will be underutlised – that’s the message of a campaign calling for the development of one regional Eurobodalla Shire hospital.
Dr Michael Holland is spokesperson for the recently-created “One New Eurobodalla Hospital” group and says it is in the long-term interests of the shire to have operations at Batemans Bay and Moruya hospitals streamlined into one major centre.
Dr Holland, who specialises in obstetrics and gynecology at both Batemans Bay and Moruya, said urgent action was needed to improve emergency, critical care and perioperative services to cater for current and future demands.
He said the campaign emerged following increased concerns among shire health care workers about service provision and the effects on patient care.
“It needs to be one hospital, it needs to be new and it needs to be in the Eurobodalla,” Dr Holland told the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner.
“It’s not to imply that it’s favouring one site over the other. We believe neither site (Batemans Bay or Moruya) is suitable for expansion to give us the equivalent level of care that other base and regional hospitals in the same local health district have at the moment.”
Dr Holland said the group, which has gained 2500 members on social media since it was established six weeks ago, did not seek to specify where the centralised hospital should be situated.
It needs to be one hospital, it needs to be new and it needs to be in the Eurobodalla.Dr Michael Holland
“We acknowledge the site is beyond our control; we don’t need to troll over that. It will be determined by the state government,” he said.
“Everyone is going to have to travel an extra five or 10 minutes, regardless of where they live. They really need to go that extra time to save going 2.5 to 3 hours to other areas.”
However, Dr Holland said the campaign did not support previous calls from Batemans Bay GPs for an independent review into the provision of health services.
“The calculations have already been made by the local health district in terms of populations, demographics and numbers of presentations of services at both hospitals and where people who use those services are coming from,” he said.
He said that under existing arrangements, clinicians were “struggling to cope” with demands across the two sites and services needed to be “fixed immediately”.
Everyone is going to have to travel an extra five or 10 minutes, regardless of where they live. They really need to go that extra time to save going 2.5 to 3 hours to other areas.Dr Michael Holland
Citing rising pressures on staff and empty hospital operating theatres, Dr Holland said staff in some cases were being pushed to breaking point.
“In the emergency department, I’ve had to listen to colleagues who are distressed by the overwork in these units and reaching the point where they’re losing staff to burnout and resignation,” he said.
“Medical and nursing staff are frustrated by the lack of resources and infrastructure and workforce issues surrounding that.”
He said that an ongoing strategy based on the duplication of resources and equipment, such as MRI machines, was inefficient and costly.
In the emergency department, I’ve had to listen to colleagues who are distressed by the overwork in these units and reaching the point where they’re losing staff to burnout and resignation.Dr Michael Holland
“You can’t drive two Ferraris at once. We’ve got a limited number of emergency doctors and they’re burning out and pulling their hair out over having to cover two sites,” he said.
Backing the call for a regional hospital is Batemans Bay GP Dr David Rivett who said the development was “a must”.
“We must move to one hospital – it’s more efficient and can provide a greater range of services,” Dr Rivett said.
“One quality hospital, preferably with a private facility, even if they were just along side each other. The government has done that in the past in other parts of the state and it's the most efficient and effective way to attract quality specialists to the area.”
Dr Rivett did not wish to comment on a specific location for the hospital but urged the site took into consideration key population areas.
“We've seen huge parochialism in the past and I think that needs to be put aside and people need to look at what's best for the shire, so I think demographers should be involved and look at the populations of areas into the future so it's located where the least number of people have to travel,” he said.
Speaking to the Bay Post/Moruya Examiner in March 2018, Dr Rivett and colleague Dr Andrew Gibson argued against what they saw as “pointless parochialism” driving services south to Moruya.
We must move to one hospital – it’s more efficient and can provide a greater range of services.Dr David Rivett
Both doctors pushed for a “fair go” for residents in the north of the shire, with most shire residents living in Batemans Bay.
Dr Holland said a Change.org petition had attracted more than 700 signatures and would be presented to the NSW Legislative Assembly this week.