Lightning Ridge Health Services
The Hon. RICK COLLESS: My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Is the Minister aware that a man with a collapsed lung presented to Lightning Ridge Hospital, where staff contacted the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Dubbo but were told that a doctor was not available? They then contacted three Broken Hill doctors from the Greater Western Area Health Service but they were also unable to assist. Staff were then forced to contact a doctor in Sydney, put him on a commercial flight to Dubbo and fly him to Lightning Ridge to attend to the patient. Why were the three doctors in Broken Hill unable to assist? Does the Minister consider this extreme delay and fiasco acceptable for country people?
The Hon. JOHN HATZISTERGOS: I am not sure when this incident is alleged to have occurred but I will look into it. I am aware that on Friday 1 September Dr Aalders advised the Greater Western Area Health Service that he had decided to leave Lightning Ridge and retire from general practice. Dr Aalders was the visiting medical officer in Lightning Ridge. In recent weeks he has been unwell and unable to discharge fully all his duties at Lightning Ridge Hospital. I understand that Dr Aalders has provided medical services to the Lightning Ridge community for many years. The Greater Western Area Health Service thanks him and wishes him a return to good health in his retirement. The chief executive of Greater Western Area Health Service advised that a locum doctor has already commenced duties at Lightning Ridge multi-purpose health services. I will ensure the continued provision of health services to members of the local community whilst a new doctor is able to be recruited. I will look into the more specific issues the honourable member has raised.