Rural Health Inquiry: Doctors voice frustrations



The Inquiry into health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural NSW is now underway and is already revealing damning evidence of understaffing, under-resourcing and the downgrading of critical incidents, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald articles “BYO bandages: inquiry told of ‘horrendous’ state of NSW hospitals”, Keep the ministry unaware’: doctors allege cover up of hospital patient deaths”; and the ABC article “NSW hospitals running a 'crisis medical service', parliamentary inquiry into regional health care hears.”

Consultation with ASMOF members revealed deep concerns about patient safety and dangerous levels of understaffing at hospitals throughout rural NSW. Due to your feedback, our submission has detailed a range of proactive recommendations to be comprehensively implemented. These recommendations were centered on ensuring that doctors working in rural health have safe working conditions and can provide rural populations with current standards of accepted medical practice.

ASMOF submitted that the NSW Government must immediately invest in rural health to ensure patient care is aligned with accepted medical standards. We also submitted that NSW Health must improve rostering arrangements, develop a comprehensive retention plan for doctors, resolve networking deficits between smaller rural hospitals and better resourced hospitals, and support the taking of leave and sick days, alongside further recommendations.

We would like to thank all the doctors who shared their experience of working in rural NSW hospitals.

Our submission is scheduled to be published on the Inquiry website by close of business on Friday 12 February. We will keep you updated on the progress of the Inquiry.