On-call doctor system covered at Leeton District Hospital

THERE will be no more disruption to the hospital’s on-call doctor system for at least the next six months. 

The Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) met with Leeton’s doctors last week and rostering has been sorted out for the next six months. 

This means the hospital’s emergency department (ED) will have access to an on-call doctor at all times. 

More registrars are also expected to be arriving in Leeton shortly which will further help alleviate the pressure on those doctors currently working the on-call roster. 

In a letter to Leeton Shire Council, MLHD’s director of operations Brett Thompson said pending an emergency, the roster would now be fully covered. 

“Should this occur, MLHD will make every effort to find a replacement medical officer,” he said. 

“MLHD is also developing a training program for medical officers that will provide them with specialist skills in a range of areas of importance … part of this includes working in EDs. 

“MLHD is undertaking additional work to build a more suitable, rural, medical officer workforce. 

“Part of this is expected to include a proposal to employ a medical officer to be rostered to work at Leeton hospital, who is not a general practitioner visiting medical officer, but is part of the Griffith hospital staff. 

“This is an option only and will be dependent on many factors.”

Leeton’s on-call doctor system was questioned recently after two occasions at the end of January when the hospital’s ED was not covered by a doctor. 

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association was not pleased their members were required to be completing extra work at this time in what they said was already a stressed and over-worked environment. 

Leeton shire mayor Paul Maytom said the community had been after some reassurance on the issue. 

“Quite simply the community needed to be reassured that we have adequate GPs and cover available if there is an emergency of some type or someone presenting to the ED … we didn’t want people to be having to travel (to other hospitals for treatment),” he said. 

“At the end of the day the best I can do is get the information and pass it on to the community. Then follow through if I have to follow through. 

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“There’s a complaint process in place at the hospital so if people are concerned about something, in the first instance they should follow that system.”

In a poll conducted by The Irrigator, residents were asked if they believed the hospital should always be covered by an on-call doctor, no matter the circumstance. 

The overwhelming response was a big yes, with 178 of 189 respondents believing it should be the case. 

Six voted no and five others were unsure. 

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