Hospital faces own emergency

IF A report requested by Rockhampton Hospital district manager Sandra Thomson, on the Emergency Department (ED) is correct, it is close to shutting down.

Ms Thomson said she requested the report, which was completed in June 2004, to identify the priority issues to improve the services of the department.

At the time of the report four senior medical officers (SMO) were employed at the hospital as well as a temporary SMO.

According to the report the four SMOs' were required to cover two shifts per day, five days a week and 10-hour shifts Saturday and Sunday. "This level of cover, however, is unsustainable at current staffing levels and is impacting in a number of other areas both within and outside the ED,'' the report said.

Since that time the temporary and one full-time SMO have left and not been replaced, leaving three senior medical officers to share the roster.

Ms Thomson said when they received the report the hospital administration immediately embarked on a campaign to appoint more doctors, but to no avail.

The ED is now reliant on a Dr Greg Treston, an emergency medical physician from Brisbane, to fly in for staff support and training to keep the department operable.

Ms Thomson said the hospital was hoping to find a number of emergency medical physicians who can fly to Rockhampton on a rotating basis to fill the short fall.

On the subject of staffing levels, the ED the report said: "There is a widely held perception in the hospital that the emergency department provides substandard care. There is a perception that the department is a dumping ground for under-performing doctors' and that senior medical staff are not regarded as specialists or senior colleagues.''

According to the report this is indicative of the ED's under-staffing.



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