Hospital short staffing revealed

A LOCAL nurse claims there was no paediatrician on duty at Coffs Harbour Health Campus last week for ‘four to five days due to politics and penny-pinching’.

The nurse, who did not want to be identified, but did state she was not a member of the maternity ward staff, said women who presented to maternity were told they would not have access to a paediatrician and were given the option of being flown to John Hunter Hospital to have their babies.

The situation apparently arose after the rostered paediatrician had been forced to take leave to take care of a family member and his position was not replaced.

This also meant that babies and children who presented to the casualty ward could not be admitted to the children’s ward.

“I believe no caesareans could be done but what has upset everyone is that no paediatrician was on duty if a baby suffered foetal distress or any other major problems,” the nurse said.

“The hospital’s CEO was aware of the problem but chose not to bring in a local paediatrician and that is just unacceptable.”

A North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) spokesperson said the situation arose last Wednesday on very short notice and despite extensive inquiries, a replacement paediatrician could not be engaged.

“The campus put in place a contingency plan to provide alternative services until a locum paediatrician was engaged from Friday, October 29, to Monday, November 1,” the spokesperson said in a statement

“Normal paediatric practices resume from Monday, November 1.

“NCAHS regrets any distress and inconvenience caused to patients over this time.”

Some good news did emerge during questioning of the NCAHS about the staffing situation.

A spokesperson revealed a newly created third paediatrician position had been approved for Coffs Harbour Health Campus and recruitment is under way.

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