Boss pledges Emergency Dept action

NORTH Coast Area Health Service CEO Chris Crawford says the executive is trying to respond to problems and improve the situation in Coffs Harbour’s emergency department.

The plight of Coffs Harbour’s ED hit the headlines again last week when a letter from six emergency medicine specialists to the NCAHS was read in NSW Parliament by Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser.

The doctors said health executives would have to share responsibility for the consequences of any adverse events in their department, because of the “grossly inadequate” staffing of the ED, with another 8.05 full-time equivalents needed.

Mr Crawford said the express care clinic had improved the situation slightly and the planned emergency medicine unit, should help further.

“We are putting quite a lot of effort in to it,” Mr Crawford said. “We have provided an extra nurse practitioner for the express care clinic, which is seeing 12 patients a day, one-eighth of the daily load.

“The planned emergency medicine unit will increase the number of beds available by about one third and this will come with extra staff, not just buildings.”

Coffs Harbour Medical Staff Council chairman Dr Alan Tankel, who is also the director of the hospital’s emergency department, said he raised the staffing problem with Mr Crawford in May and met him last month, without the issue being resolved.

Dr Tankel said 50 per cent of those seen by the nurse practitioner in the express care clinic also had to be seen by a doctor, so the clinic only reduced the workload by five or six patients a day. He said for every 10 patients seen by junior doctors at other base hospitals, junior doctors in Coffs Harbour’s emergency department were required to see 15 patients to get through the workload.

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