by S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow
Thyroid surgery joins the long list of medical services lost to the Millicent Hospital and to the surrounding communities. Dr Bill McLeay is a longstanding visiting surgeon to the Millicent Hospital specialising in breast surgery, thyroid surgery and a range of other procedures. Country Health SA has decided thyroid and parathyroid surgery will no longer be performed at the Millicent Hospital.
The loss of thyroid surgery from the Millicent Hospital follows chemotherapy, obstetrics, dialysis, gastroenterology and reduced staffing; negatively impacting the services now available to the surrounding communities, at the Millicent Hospital.
Country Health SA provided 5THE FM/wattlerangenow a statement saying that patient safety is a priority and in the case of thyroid surgery there can be a small but known risk of bleeding after this procedure.
CHSA Regional Director South East Jayne Downs said discussions have been held with Dr Bill McLeay regarding the safe care of thyroid patients at Millicent Hospital post surgery.
“To ensure the safety of these patients at all times, a clinical decision has been made to provide more thyroid surgery at Naracoorte Hospital, which has a higher level of overnight medical support in the event a patient experiences complications.”
The overnight anaesthetic support could be provided by the Medical Clinic Millicent for thyroid patients, as referred to in CHSA statement. The clinic’s anaesthetist Dr Caitlin Kerrigan is available to be rostered on to provide the higher level of overnight medical support in the event a patient experienced complications.
In response to our query about Dr Kerrigan, CHSA said one anaesthetist could not be rostered on 24/7 to cover these patients. Dr McLeay provides only one surgical list per month at the Millicent Hospital and the post surgery patient care would usually be overnight or two to three days maximum; this would not exceed the five days straight that CHSA roster locums on at the Millicent Hospital.
Dr Kerrigan’s on call fee for one night following a patient’s thyroid surgery would be approximately $220-00. CHSA will not fund this; instead thyroid surgery will now be performed at the Naracoorte Hospital.
CHSA said they were unable to provide us with information regarding any post thyroid surgery emergencies at the Millicent Hospital but our understanding is that there have been none.
Ms Downs said Dr McLeay will continue to provide one surgical list per month at both the Millicent and Naracoorte Hospitals. Millicent Hospital continues to deliver four theatre sessions per week including general surgery, scope procedures, gynaecology, oral surgery, breast surgery and urology. She said CHSA will increase the number of breast surgeries and general surgeries performed by Dr McLeay to support the decision to remove thyroid and parathyroid surgery.
The local GP’s have gone on record in the past saying re-instating obstetric services would provide an anaesthetist who would be available for additional medical support for emergency services and post operative care, as CHSA have stated, is needed, in their statement regarding thyroid surgery.
In recent years the Medical Clinic has recruited at least two anaethetists and an obstetrician; all who have been denied credentialing at the Millicent Hospital.
Former Medical Clinic Millicent doctors, Dr Jun Koh anaesthetist and Dr Damien Ochigbo obstetrician were both denied credentialing at the Millicent Hospital in the past two to three years on application. Both have moved away to hospitals where they can use their skills.
Medical Clinic Millicent doctor, Dr Caitlyn Kerrigan has been recruited by the clinic to combine her work at the clinic, with providing anaesthetic services at the Millicent Hospital, but is not permitted to do so. She travels to Naracoorte where she practices anaesthetics.
Ms Downs said, “Patient safety is always our highest priority and this change will ensure we maintain the current levels of surgery at both Millicent and Naracoorte Hospitals, while ensuring South East patients receive the highest quality of care at all times.”