Mullumbimby Community Action Newsletters

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Originally published 03Jul2012




Unless we rattle the cage, we will loose our all-night doctor in A & E (Accident and Emergency) in October. That means if we arrive after 11 pm and before 7 am at Mullumbimby hospital, we will be treated by a one-way video link called "Telehealth" with Tweed Hospital. The doctor will see you, but you won"t be able to see the doctor (who would be a stranger anyway). Should the doctor decide you need to be seen in person, the ambulance will cost $1300 to Tweed, each way, and 2 paramedics and a driver will be called from their beds. And this is to save money!!

At the end of this message and also on our website is a list of names and addresses of people to write to to save the night doctor service.


At a meeting packed with locals, mostly elders, at Mullum Civic Hall on 18th June, various speakers outlined their special reasons for retaining the night doctor. Some notes I took were as follows; please use any of this info for your letters to the decision-makers.

Mullum hospital services 16,000 people according to 2006 census. Tourists swell this population by over a quarter, and it is the 45-64 age group, (of which we have high proportion) who are most likely to present at emergency.

CARDIAC ARREST? Should anyone suffer a cardiac arrest, say at Ocean Shores, the time it takes to get to Mullum hospital (20 mins), consult with Telehealth (10 mins), wait for ambulance (10 mins) and travel to Tweed Hospital (35 mins) the patient will be outside the "golden hour" when treatment would be most effective.

Telehealth is a remote services model which will reduce local human resources; healthcare is better decentralised. Friends and relatives may have to travel 4 hours to Tweed Hospital.

MRS ELAINE ROBINSON gave an inspiring history of the Mullum Hospital. She has worked in the Hospital Auxillary since 1968 when the hospital was moved from Stuart Street (Opp Anglican Church) to the new site on "hospital hill" which land had been deeded in perpetuity for the hospital by a Mr Wallace in 1901. This land extends to the water tower and includes the Coolamon Villa Aged Care, an orchard and the horse paddock. In 2010 the Hospital Trust, who had managed this site since 1968, was dissolved and taken over by "Land and Property Management". Mrs Robinson asked the audience if anyone could "look into" this takeover.

COMMUNITY FUNDING Mrs Robinson further listed the fabulous funding by community of parts of the hospital and its equipment. For example, the A & E facility was built and equipped by funds from the Chincogan Fiesta in 1988. In 1993 the Suzanne Jamison Birthing Unit was built with a donation from the Jamison family of $44,881. Again, the Chincogan Fiesta funded the High Dependency Ward and the Paliative Care Unit. Today the Hospital Auxiliary still meets the costs of medical equipment, for example a machine to assist nurses handling obese patients. The Auxiliary needs new members and meets 1st Wednesday of each month at 10 am in meeting room at the hospital.

NOLA OF NSW NURSES MEDICAL ASSOC asked if Telehealth could deliver safe patient care? They have asked Chris Crawford (CEO of Board of Health who wants Telehealth put in) questions, as yet unanswered, such as the names of hospitals that currently use this service, also the size of the population and the number of patients these hospitals look after. Nurses do not agree with Telehealth and do not want to work with that system. She asked "How reliable is the connectivity between computers?"

NERIDA DEAN, HEALTH PARTICIPATION COUNCIL COMMUNITY REP: recently moved here from Queanbeyan where she worked as Hospital Deputy, told us that there are Health Board members assigned to Mullumbimby and who represent Mullumbimby. Why, she asked, were they not here at this meeting? The mission of the Health Department is the patient, she said.

DR LIZ ELLIOTT has worked as a local doctor for over 20 years here and in Murwillumbah. Community built the hospital, she said. Being seen by a frightened nurse at 3 am is no substitute for minute by minute observation of breathing pattern, skin colour, emotional responses, etc. Experience is required, she said. Local doctors have easy access to the hospital and are accountable because they are part of the community, are familiar with the patients and know about their family supports. Hear her comments on ABC local news

Dr Elliott said that local night doctors are being paid $11.60 per hour to be available on call, and are paid more if they are called out. In contrast locums (a doctor who works in the place of the regular doctor) are paid $145 per hour. In the UK cottage hospitals are being reopened. Local hospitals are efficient, kind, quick, employ local people and are part of the rural fabric, she said.

CR BASIL CAMERON summed up the evening saying that we need quality health services, not a bureaucratic experiment. The hospital is the heart of Mullumbimby. The hospital auxillary has been run by countless volunteers and more are needed for fundraising. The on-going presence of the hospital is an indication of the health of the community. Furthermore, Cr Cameron doubts that the removal of the night doctor will reduce costs. He asked for

Whilst looking for a quote to end up with, this was the first thing I stumbled upon :::


Chris Crawford
CEO Board of Health
Address: Locked Mail Bag 11, Lismore NSW 2480

Mrs Jillian Skinner
Health Minister
Address: Level 31, 1 Farrer Place, Sydney NSW 2000

Thomas George MP
Address: Head Office 55 Carrington Street, Lismore NSW 2480

Don Page MP
Minister for Local Government
Address: Level 33 Governor Macquarie Tower, 1 Farrer Place, Sydney NSW 2000

Dr Andrew McDonald MP
Shadow Health Minister

Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile MLC

The Hon. Jan Barham, MLC

The Hon. Mick Veitch, MLC
Shadow Minister fro Trade and Investment, Shadow Minister for Regional Infrastructure and Services, Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Affairs

Have your say on FACEBOOK – Save Mullum Hospital.

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