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Medical Clinic offer of additional hospital services rejected by CHSA


by S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlernagenow

The Medical Clinic Millicent has offered to provide additional days and additional services to the Millicent Hospital, but this offer was rejected by Country Health SA Local Health Network. (CHSALHN) on Thursday 19th February 2015.

The Medical Clinic Millicent has issued the following statement :-
“Today, 19th February, Country Health SA Local Health Network (CHSALHN) has rejected our offer to provide additional days AND additional services to the Millicent Hospital.

Our proposal to provide on call and medical services during normal week days would ensure continuity of safe, high quality care resulting in better health outcomes for all patients. The role of locum doctors would be reduced to weekends and public holidays. This would mean safer working hours for locums, and would also optimise follow up by local doctors.
CHSALHN have also refused to allow our newly recruited anaesthetist to practice anaesthetics in Millicent.

How many of you remember the public meeting held to discuss the loss of services and the closure of obstetrics in Millicent?

We were told “Recruit doctors with anaesthetic and obstetric skills and we will support the return of birthing services to Millicent”.

We have managed to do so: one of our new registrars is qualified to do anaesthetics – including being fully accredited to do epidurals. Another has completed obstetric training and is sitting final exams. Will this public declaration be honoured, and will either be allowed to work in the capacity for which they have trained?

Whilst we realise that these numbers are not enough to necessarily provide a full time, long term service, they are a start. How are we ever going to be able to recruit more suitably trained doctors to the region if those we do recruit are not allowed to work at the hospital?”

Last week, Rural Doctors Association SA (RDASA) and Country Health SA (CHSA) released statements regarding the extension given doctors to sign the contract CHSA has issued to private practice doctors who work in Country Health SA hospitals. (see link below) RDASA said they cannot support the CHSA contract being offered to rural doctors and this resulted in the extension.

It was also announced a few days prior that 108 South Australian Registrars will not be able to work in rural hospitals if their supervising doctor has not signed the contract. Registrars are not the only one’s affected by the recent CHSA contract conditions; it has also impacted qualified doctors already working in CHSA hospitals.

Kangaroo Island Dr Tim :Leeuwenburg application for Credentialling and Scope of Practice has been approved by CHSA Clinical Practice Advisory Commitee, but it is ‘subject to signing a GP contract’.
Dr Leeuwinberg is a Rural doctor at the Kangaroo Island Medical Clinic, Anaesthetics and Emergency Medicine, Retrieval Doctor with Medstar. His medical studies include Anaesthesia at Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and University College London.

On-going credentialing difficulties have already negatively impacted doctor numbers at Millicent in recent years.
Dr June Koh, trained as an anaethetist at Mt Gambier, to return to the Millicent Clinic and the Millicent and District Hospital but her credentialing by CHSA for anaesthetics did not include Millicent Hospital.
Dr Damien Ochigbo’s last application for credentialing before he left Millicent,  was approved for clinical GP and emergency only at the Millicent Hospital. His credentialing for obstetrics at the Millicent Hospital was not approved. He was later granted credentialing for post-natal patients but not obstetrics.
Dr Paul Angus on-going credentialing depended on a signed contract with CHSA.

Retaining these 3 doctors would have meant an additional Obstetrician,    (2 in total with Dr James Bushel) and 2 Anaethetists at the Millicent Clinic and Hospital, making many additional services possible including obstetrics.  Dr Angus’ wife, Dr Jane Thiel was also a doctor at the Clinic.

In January this year, after on-going contract difficulties between the GP’s and CHSA,  it was announced that local GP’s would no longer be working in the Victor Harbour Hospital; instead CHSA would provide a team of their own doctors.

This coincides with the announcement that 3 Emergency Departments and the Repatriation Hospital in Adelaide will be closed and many other services integrated in what the State Government have said is part of their Transforming Health program.

The closure of obstetric services at the Millicent Hospital, 2013, meant there are no obstetric services between Murray Bridge and Mt Gambier, a total of 341 kilometres. At least another 8 services had been removed from the Millicent Hospital at the time CHSA closed obstetric services; including dialysis and chemotherapy. The closure of obstetric services negatively impacted other services too. An obstetrician or anaethetist on duty could  be called upon in times of emergency. In conjunction with the closure of obstetrics, the second on-call doctor fee was cancelled leaving a single doctor on call, or the chance that another doctor may be at the hospital or available to be called with no payment, in an emergency.

South Australian Liberal Leader Steven Marshall said today:- While Labor closes hospitals and cuts emergency departments, Health Minister Jack Snelling has found $2.4 million to refurbish his office! These sentiments were also voiced by Christopher Pyne.

No comment on Mr Snelling’s office upgrade was available from the Premier at the time of posting this article.

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