Supporters of Coraki, Bonalbo and Mullumbimby Hospitals marched on Lismore Base Hospital recently to protest closures and reductions in services at local hospitals.
Supporters of Coraki, Bonalbo and Mullumbimby Hospitals marched on Lismore Base Hospital recently to protest closures and reductions in services at local hospitals.

Hospital protest

COMMUNITY anger over proposed service cuts to Mullumbimby Hospital appears to be growing with a protest meeting on Monday night drawing a crowd of around 220 people.

The first protest meeting in late May against a proposal by local health bureaucrats to replace the doctor in the emergency department overnight with telemedicine technology attracted 100 people.

"From tonight's response we'll keep fighting," said Dean Stanford, who chaired the latest protest at Mullumbimby's Civic Hall.

It was also attended by Coraki locals fighting to have their hospital re-opened.

Many of the speakers stressed the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the community had raised for Mullumbimby Hospital over the years for facilities and equipment that they said health bureaucrats treated as though they owned.

Elaine Robinson, who has served on the Mullumbimby Hospital auxiliary since 1967, gave a brief history of the extensive community contributions, including over $300,000 to the accident and emergency wards and birthing units alone since 1988.

Dr Liz Elliott, who has worked in the local health system for 25 years, said: "The hospital was built by the community. It wasn't built by bean counters. They are our representatives, not our rulers."

Dr Elliott said there was no replacement for doctors and nurses working together.

"No one's against technology but it's not a substitute for a minute-by-minute observation of a patient," she said

Byron Shire Council deputy mayor Basil Cameron said: "Mullumbimby Hospital is probably the heart of the community.

"It's more than just a facility.

"The hospital has come to represent the values our community holds dearest - volunteerism and service to the community."

The telemedicine trial at the facility has been delayed until at least October 31 with doctors rostered on to staff the late shift until at least that date.