Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive, Chris Crawford, has struck a mutually satisfying arrangement at a meeting with nurses over Mullumbimby Hospital's ED doctor yesterday.
Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive, Chris Crawford, has struck a mutually satisfying arrangement at a meeting with nurses over Mullumbimby Hospital's ED doctor yesterday. Jay Cronan

Mullumbimby Hospital resolution

AFTER weeks of staff anxiety and public protest following plans to axe Mullumbimby Hospital's emergency department doctor, nurses today described a meeting with the local health service chief executive as "productive".

The department's plan was to replace the doctor with a video-conferencing system connecting it to The Tweed Hospital but nurses had expressed deep concerns about patient safety and personal legal liabilities.

Northern NSW Local Health District boss, Chris Crawford, promised today to leave the medical officer at Mullumbimby Hospital rostered on until the end of October so the issues could be resolved.

NSW Nurses Association organiser, Nola Scilinato, said Northern NSW Local Health District boss, Chris Crawford, genuinely listened to nurses' concerns and promised to follow-up on them.

"The members are very happy that Mr Crawford took the time to talk to them and that he seemed quite engaged in the issues they were raising," she said.

"He said no firm decision had yet been made and that he would do more research based on the questions raised by nurses and proceed from there."

Mr Crawford spoke in equally positive terms describing the meeting as "constructive".

"I listened to the nurses concerns about providing the medical officer support to the Mullumbimby Hospital emergency department (ED) using the telemedicine video-conferencing Connecting Critical Care System," he said yesterday.

"The meeting also received advice that there had been a further delay in the implementation of the (system) at Mullumbimby Hospital, so it will not now be fully installed until around the end of August 2012.

"It was agreed at the meeting that a couple of months should be allowed for the nurses to get used to the system with a medical officer rostered to provide onsite support to the ED at night.

"Also it was agreed that (the local health district) would provide the nurses with copies of policies and protocols utilised at other hospitals that do not have onsite medical officers to support the nurses.

"As well, (the local health district) also agreed to provide the nurses with more information about the hospitals in north, central and south western NSW, where nurses receive telemedicine or just telephone support from a medical officer based at another site.

"Finally, it was agreed that a further meeting would be held (in late October) between the Mullumbimby nursing staff and myself in the light of their having utilised the Connecting Critical Care system and having considered the additional information provided to them to consider whether and to what extent their concerns about the provision of medical officer support from The Tweed Hospital at night have been addressed."

Another public meeting will be held at Mullumbimby Hospital on June 18.