Orthopaedic service plan is ‘band-aid solution for a big problem’

By | June 17, 2021

The statement was in response to local member Paul Toole’s promise of more beds and increased orthopaedic services at the hospital.

Mr Toole said there would be two orthopaedic lists in Bathurst each week, with the first to commence soon.

A spokesperson for the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) has since told the Western Advocate that the “expanded orthopaedic service at Bathurst” starts on June 22.

“This will mean that most of the patients currently transferred from Bathurst to Orange for emergency orthopaedic surgery will be able to have their operation in Bathurst and stay at Bathurst Hospital,” they said.

“Seven surgeons will participate in the orthopaedic service at Bathurst Hospital, with dedicated orthopaedic surgery theatre time on Tuesdays, and later increasing to Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Bathurst residents will have access to the fracture clinic at the Bathurst Hospital for pre and post-operative assessment and care.”

This arrangement, which would see Bathurst surgeons working in Orange, has been criticised by the action group and, according to spokesperson Warren Aubin, by medical staff as well.

“This is what they’ve been banging on about for the last 18 months, where they’re going to have the two orthos go to Orange once every seven weeks to do a week of on-call,” Mr Aubin said.

“… The system now is going to be if you break your arm on a Thursday you’re going to have to go to Orange. It’s not changing it, they’re just glorifying it, it’s just not what they’re making it out to be at all.

“And I’m afraid it’s a band-aid solution for a very big problem, and it’s one that’s not going away until they actually get real, get some money and put it into getting another full-time orthopaedic surgeon in Bathurst.”

While he welcomed the news of more beds from Mr Toole and believes it’s a good step forward, Mr Aubin said more work needs to be done to improve health services.

Mr Aubin’s claims are supported by a source close to local orthopaedic surgeons, who asked not to be named.

They said that, during on-call weeks, operating days will be lost at both the public and private hospital, along with consult days, so that a surgeon can be in Orange.

“Whichever surgeon is on call, whether they are Bathurst or Orange-based, lose their elective list for the week they are on call,” they said.

“So, in reality, seven elective surgery lists are lost in one on-call rotation.”

They will only be at Bathurst Hospital from 8am to 12pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays during on-call weeks, and when those shifts finish they must go to Orange for afternoon surgeries.

The source said Bathurst people will still be going to Orange unless their injury occurs at very specific times.

“In reality, it’s probably a good idea if you can break your leg on a Monday and then you can possibly be operated on in Bathurst on a Tuesday, or break your leg or your arm on a Wednesday and then you can possibly be operated on on a Thursday in Bathurst.”

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Western Advocate – Health