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Sick turned away

 

PATIENTS are calling for changes to the way the State Government funds hospitals, in the wake of patients being turned away from the urgent care centre at the new $30 million Leongatha Hospital.

Patients say they are being diverted to emergency departments at Wonthaggi Hospital and Latrobe Regional Hospital at Traralgon, despite having non-emergency ailments requiring prompt medical attention.

One patient reported the urgent care centre at Leongatha Hospital did not have adequate staff to cope with an influx of patients. The patient said they were left unattended for nearly three hours.

Ambulances with local patients are continuing to be bypassed from the Leongatha Hospital and sent on longer journeys to Wonthaggi, Traralgon and Warragul hospitals.

The significant workload the urgent care centre requires of general practitioners is also discouraging new GPs from staying in South Gippsland.

A disgruntled patient felt the way urgent care centres operate and are funded by the State Government needs to change to ensure centres were staffed adequately.

“Clearly the current system just doesn’t work, leaving patients feeling stranded,” the patient said.

The patient recently attended the Leongatha Hospital for a scheduled 4pm emergency appointment but self-discharged – without being questioned by medical staff – after not being seen by a doctor for nearly three hours.

“The bureaucracy is just getting in the way of patient care around here,” the patient said.

“I was disgusted.”

The patient said the doctor and nurses appeared under pressure.

“I understand there is not an emergency department at Leongatha but they supposedly have an urgent care centre,” the patient said.

“Surely you should have a reasonable timeframe for when a doctor is going to see you.”

Another patient told The Star they were unable to obtain an appointment at Leongatha Healthcare and was told Leongatha Hospital was not taking patients either.

They were unable to see a GP at a Wonthaggi clinic and so went to the Wonthaggi Hospital emergency department in urgent need of pain relief.

“I did not like taking valuable time and a bed in the emergency department but was left with no other option. Wonthaggi ED was fantastic,” the patient said.

“I have also had a very positive experience in Leongatha Hospital where the care was great because the doors where open.”

Gippsland Southern Health Service chief executive officer Mark Johnson said urgent care services, such as those provided at Leongatha and Korumburra hospitals, were run by nurses and supported by local general practitioners on-call.

“It is not feasible or appropriate for every rural hospital to provide the same level of access to specialist treatment and diagnostics,” he said.

“Specialists and their teams need to undertake minimum numbers of complex procedures to maintain their high skills, but if they are at sites that do only small numbers of those procedures, they risk reducing their skills in that area, which can put patients at risk.”

Health service board Mark Holmes did not wish to comment.

Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien urged the State Government to consider the level of health services required in South Gippsland.

“The State Government should continuously review the data and ensure that appropriate services are being offered if the level of demand changes,” he said.

Mr O’Brien said Leongatha Hospital was “an excellent facility that generally provides a high level of care for local residents”.

“I appreciate the frustration that some people experience that it is not an emergency ward but I understand there is simply not enough demand for there to be a permanently staffed emergency department in Leongatha,” he said.

Labor’s Eastern Victoria Region MLC Harriet Shing said the State Government would consider improving urgent care centres as part of its development of the Statewide Services and Infrastructure Plan now underway.

“I’m happy to hear from anybody that could have been admitted to the urgent care centre but they were not,” she said.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=19677

Posted by on Sep 27 2016. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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