LISMORE BASE HOSPITAL
Mr THOMAS GEORGE
(Lismore) [11.55 a.m.]: I express my concern about the experience of Mr Robert Gow, a patient at Lismore Base Hospital. I have forwarded representations to the Minister for Health, but it is virtually after the event. I pay tribute to all staff at that hospital. I will read the last sentence of a letter that Mrs Gow wrote to me about her husband:
Robert is full of praise for the staff at the I.C. Cardiac unit which at times over flows into I.C. and this needs funding for an extension. Our anger is therefore directed at THE SYSTEM which is bogged down in bureaucracy and under-funding.
Mrs Gow approached my office out of sheer frustration. For almost two weeks her husband, Robert, has been in the cardiac intensive care unit waiting for a transfer to Royal North Shore Hospital to receive a permanent pacemaker. His surgeons inserted a temporary pacemaker, which was supposed to be in place for only a few days due to the possibility of infection. She contacted my office nine days after its insertion when his condition was becoming critical because he had not been transferred to Royal North Shore Hospital. Her letter also stated:
I must emphasise that we are more than happy with the standard of care and the staff at the I.C. Coronary unit. Both the nurses and to-day the top Cardiologists yelled vociferously over the phone to R.N.S. to accept him urgently. They have done their very best and more.
Her husband was finally transferred yesterday and I believe as we speak he is undergoing surgery. I bring this matter to the attention of the House and the Minister because, as Mrs Gow stated:
I'm told that Lismore only has an arrangement with R.N.S. because Brisbane charges too much and there isn't an agreement with Newcastle. If this present arrangement could be extended, some pressure could be taken off R.N.S. whom I'm sure are doing their best in spite of underfunding.
This matter again highlights the problems of cross-border issues. On a number of occasions I have spoken about people who have had cardiac problems and have had to be sent to Sydney because Lismore did not have a catheterisation laboratory. However, I thank the Government for providing the new laboratory, which may have opened this week. Prior to this, patients were flown to Sydney for testing at a catheterisation laboratory, in the public system. That will not solve Mr Gow's problem, because he needs a permanent pacemaker, which cannot be put in at Lismore. But once patients are tested in Sydney and found to be okay they are told they can go home and they are left to their own devices to get home to Lismore or the surrounding North Coast area. If the same tests are performed across the border, it is easier for them to make their way back to the Northern Rivers.
Hopefully, the catheter laboratory in Lismore will solve half these problems, but the concern is about flying patients all the way from the North Coast to the Royal North Shore Hospital when, with two hours drive the other way, they could receive the same treatment closer to home. The cost of flying patients to Sydney must be astronomical. I bring this concern to the attention of the House, and I have made representations to the Minister about this very serious case.