The Northern Daily Leader
Thursday 7 May 2015
In my opinion ………………………..
I was saddened by an article in our local paper today which related to the “crippling shortage” of Paediatricians in Tamworth. The headline was misleading in the extreme – Sick Kids Lottery – Paediatric clinic says don’t call us, we’ll call you.
The woman involved in the interview certainly does have a sick child in need of ongoing care and attention and as an Administrative staff member I fully understand that it is completely frustrating for a parent to not be able to make regular bi-monthly appointments for their child. The Paediatric Clinic developed a waiting list system for children needing a follow-up appointment, as the locum availability is often not known until a week or two prior to them physically arriving to work at the hospital. This waiting list had a very specific function which was to ensure that no child was missed to Paediatric follow up. Because the availability of doctors is not often known in advance the Administrative staff finds that they need to ring patients on the follow-up waiting list with short notice in relation to appointment availability. At least they are getting the chance of an appointment.
Unfortunately there are literally hundreds of children on the follow-up waiting list, and even larger numbers on the new appointment waiting list. All appointment are triaged by the Paediatrician to ensure the most needy children – both new and follow-up – are seen time appropriately, but it is a sad truth that not all children get to see a Paediatrician when their parents believes the child needs to be seen.
The article does outline the fact that recruitment of Paediatricians has been an ongoing problem in Tamworth and I am very proud to say that the hospital management have put enormous effort into recruitment. However, there is a real difficulty in bringing services to regional areas. Doctors seem to prefer the cities.
I would like to point out that the Paediatricians that are currently on staff at the Paediatric Clinic “bend over backwards” to ensure that no child needing care is turned away either in the Paediatric Clinic, the Emergency Department or on Children’s Ward. I simply cannot speak highly enough of their work ethic, professionalism and their common decency.
To sum up – The Paediatricians, the Hospital Management team and the Administrative staff are all trying their hardest to keep a bulk billed Paediatric Outpatient service afloat until further recruitment can take place. The problem of brining doctors out to regional areas could in fact be solved if all new doctors had to do 3 years service in a regional area before they could follow their dreams of a city lifestyle. Surely it would be better to be lobbying government at every level for a change in new doctor training and recruitment policy, rather than bemoan a service that has no control over which doctor might like to “move to the country”.