Inverell District Hospital will have doctors on duty, seven days a week, 24 hours each day as of April 1.
“The service that will be provided, post 1 April, will be a better service than Inverell has seen for years,” Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said.
After community complaints of no doctor on duty when patients presented at the hospital emergency department, often with serious injury or illness, a petition circulated late 2016, collecting about 3900 signatures. Mr Marshall thanked the district for their proactive approach to reform their medical service.
“I want to thank the community, and thank the thousands of people that signed the petition,” Mr Marshall said. “It wouldn’t have happened without the community getting agitated and getting active.
“I also want to thank publicly, the council, and mayor Paul Harmon in particular, that came along with me that day to have that fairly nasty meeting in Tamworth in December, which then led to an agreement that Hunter New England (HNEH) would do something, which then led to now.”
The community should be proud of themselves, saying they weren’t happy with the situation as it was.Brad Hilton
From April 1, two doctors will be rostered at the hospital emergency department for 12 hour shifts, one day and one night, all seven days.
The night-shift doctor will be permitted to go home if possible, but under the contract, must not reside more than 10 minutes from the hospital and will be on call at all times on shift. The GP clinic will be permanently staffed each day.
“It will go from five days to seven days, and there will be a permanent doctor there at all times, 9am-6pm in the GP clinic,” Mr Marshall said.
He said as part of the agreement, there will be recruitment of 10 new HNEH-approved and accredited medical officers in addition to the existing medical workforce of two local GPs who work in the hospital on a roster basis and any GP visiting patients as part of their normal routine.
Inverell resident Brad Hilton kick-started the petition after he presented at the ED with a severe foot injury, only to find no doctor on duty. He said he hoped this doctor supply was the start of more improvements.
“I think it’s a huge step forward and it’s a great results for the town of Inverell and the community should be proud of themselves, saying they weren’t happy with the situation as it was,” he said.
“I just helped collate it – they were the ones who made it happen.”