Bellinger Hospital emergency role

LIVES will be on the line if the overnight Accident and Emergency (A&E) service at the Bellinger Hospital is closed as a cost-saving exercise.

That fear rippled through a meeting of the Bellinger Health Action Group (BHAG) this week after the presentation of statistics showing just how important and busy the service is. Those statistics were also used to warn the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) that it could be held culpable and charged with discrimination if it pushes ahead with axing the service

The head of the Bellinger Hospital’s medical staff council, Dr Deirdre Little, said the NCAHS was manipulating figures to justify it’s as yet confirmed plan to have the A&E un-manned overnight.

“Our own figures show that presentations to the A&E increased by 29.5 per cent between 2005/06 and 2008/09,” Dr Little said.

“And yet the NCAHS has produced

figures indicating presentations have only increased by 2 per cent in that time. What they haven’t told people is they got that marginal increase by adding outpatient visits to the 2005/06 figures.

”The truth is that in the six months between January 09 and June 09 12 per cent of all presentations were of a potentially life-threatening nature. That’s 15 people who came to the hospital between 11pm and 7am with health issues that could have killed them.

“Given that few of those patients arrived in ambulances you have to wonder what would have happened to them as they were being driven in private cars to Coffs Harbour for treatment. On a per capita basis our hospital is seeing as many overnight A&E patients as the Coffs Harbour hospital and any hospital in Sydney.”

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