The Rural Doctors Association of NSW is promising to keep a “close eye” on Coolah hospital after the Greater Western Area Health Service scrambled to find nurses to take it off “ambulance bypass”.
It’s also praising the Greater Western for its “prompt action” in filling staffing holes that made the hospital incapable of delivering emergency care on the nights of November 10 and 11.
On Monday the Greater Western announced that registered nurses from Nyngan and Rylstone would work at Coolah until a temporary and agency nurse arrived from Western Australia.
It has also advertised for both a permanent full-time and permanent part-time nurse for the facility, reported by the association to be servicing more than 2000 people.
Last week the association warned the “shutting down” the hospital’s emergency department and acute care beds put lives at risk.
The Greater Western refutes the claim, insisting “at no time was the emergency department closed”.
This week association vice-president and Coolah’s only doctor Tilak Dissanayake overlooked the difference of opinion in commending the Greater Western “on responding so quickly on this issue”.
“While we will keep a close eye on the situation at Coolah hospital in the weeks ahead, we are greatly encouraged by the prompt action that GWAHS has taken over the past few days in returning the hospital to its normal capacity,” he said.
“Coolah hospital’s emergency department is once again fully operational and all acute beds are again available, which is terrific news for local patients and the local community in general.”
Coolah’s closest base hospitals are at Tamworth and Dubbo, two hours and one-and-a-half hours drive away, respectively.
From July to October an average of 125 emergency patients presented at the Coolah hospital monthly, the association reports.
On Monday the Greater Western said “there are no plans to close the ED at Coolah”.
“The difficulties faced by the AHS (area health service) to attract, recruit and retain nurses to rural areas are highlighted by the situation at Coolah,” its spokesperson said.