Numbers build over hospital cuts

CIVIC PRIDE: The Civic Hall in Mullumbimby some time before the meeting started. It was soon packed out.
CIVIC PRIDE: The Civic Hall in Mullumbimby some time before the meeting started. It was soon packed out.

A STEELY resolve to fight moves to cut medical services at Mullum Hospital was voiced by speaker after speaker at a packed meeting in the town's Civic Hall on Monday.

The focus of the meeting, which drew about 250 fired-up residents, was the planned replacement of an emergency department night doctor with a "tele-health video conference" system which would comprise diagnoses carried out by a physician at the Tweed Hospital.

Installation of the tele-health system is due to take place in August and doctors are rostered only until the end of October.

But tele-conferencing was a flawed way to treat patients, the speakers said.

A person who suffered a heart attack could not be properly treated within "the golden hour" to maximise their recovery chances, said Frank Lynch, convenor of the campaign's steering committee. Having a doctor on-site meant a much better scenario, he said.

In a scathing and darkly funny speech, Dr Liz Elliott said the tele-system was not efficient from either a financial or time-saving point of view.

Should a patient need to be taken to Tweed Hospital, "an ambulance is hard to get and expensive - about $1300", she said.

"And then when it gets there, the patient will have to wait, and wait.

"Instead of receiving rapid, comforting and kind care near home, the hospital visit becomes an odyssey."

Elaine Robinson, who has campaigned with the Hospital Auxiliary since she came to the area in 1967, said she feared that people with a health problem at 3am or 4am would wait until the next morning before they sought help, rather than risk being sent to Tweed.

Nerida Dean (nee Siwicki) was born in the area but has been living in Queanbeyan, where she has been fighting to retain full services.

"We still have a hospital but the fight is never over," she warned.

The night-time mental health facility had been replaced with tele-conferencing and it was "a disaster", she said.

"People with dementia or young people with mental health problems cannot liaise with a doctor through a tele-video system.

"If you lose your Emergency Department, you will never get it back."

She also expressed outrage that no representative from the region's health service was present at the meeting.

Northern NSW Local Health District boss Chris Crawford had sent his apologies but Ms Dean said to loud applause: "Mr Crawford is a member of a board. Why is there no member of that board here?"

The mood of the meeting was of a more general resistance to any reduction in the quality of medical care - and one of pride that the hospital had been built up and maintained by the community for nearly 100 years.

Byron Shire deputy mayor Basil Cameron put a three-part motion to the vote, calling upon health authorities not to reduce services or replace A&E doctors with video cameras at Mullumbimby Hospital; opposing any reduction of staff at the hospital; and seeking a full consultation with nurses, doctors and the community about the future of medical services.

He put it to the vote and not a hand was raised in disagreement.

The steering committee will meet Mr Crawford this week.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Brave boy uncovers man's cow sex, child sexual abuse

A beast in the main arena at the 2012 Ekka.

Police praise boy for testimony of man's abuse and sex with a cow

DPI puts Dolphin Marine Magic 'all but out of business'

A battle over seal enclosures at Dolphin Marine Magic threatens the facility's ability to stay open, Coffs Harbour MP Andrew Fraser warns.

DPI crackdown a threat to Dolphin Marine Magic, warns MP

Jethro Tull is back to Bluesfest

ICONIC: Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull at Bluesfest 2011.

Jethro Tull returns to Bluesfest next April

Local Partners

Back with Love and Violence

REUNITED, re-energised and ready to rock 'n' roll, The Superjesus are back after 13 years of recording silence with a new EP, Love and Violence.

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

New acts announced for Falls Byron Bay

Northeast Party House are a six piece alternative dance rock band from Melbourne.

Seven new acts have been added to the line up

Xavier Rudd, Cat Empire announce joint tour

Australian singer songwriter Xavier Rudd at Bluesfest 2015.

Two of Australia's most outstanding live acts to tour together

Miranda Kerr to wed next year

Supermodel Miranda Kerr

Supermodel and Snapchat founder to wed

What's on the small screen this week

Georgia Love pictured in a scene from The Bachelorette finale.

TWO big reality shows wrap up this week while

Back with Love and Violence

DOWN AGAIN: The Superjesus are Paul Berryman on drums, Sarah McLeod on lead vocals and Stuart Rudd on bass guitar.

The Superjesus are back after 13 years

Brad Pitt won't file legal response to divorce petition

Brad reportedly refused to send off the paperwork

Azealia Banks won't take legal action against Russell Crowe

Rapper Azealia Banks

Rapper drops legal action against Russell Crowe

Brad Pitt meets with his kids amid divorce proceedings

Actor Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt has met up with his oldest son Maddox

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

Dusit Thani finance crisis 'just a small hiccup'

ON TRACK: Springfield Land Chairman, Maha Sinnathamby, Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale, Developer Richard Turner and Springfield Land Deputy Chairman, Bob Sharpless, at the recent resort sod turning ceremony.

Property developer says project remains firmly on track

Heavyweight enters real estate market

Des Besanko principal and director of Raine and Horne Springfield.

Major rebranding which has seen two big name brands merge