Doctors Condemn Coonabarabran Bed Closures – 9 December 2009

“The closure of a 4-bed ward in the small rural hospital of Coonabarabran makes a farce of newly elected NSW Premier Kristina Keneally’s soothing words to help rural NSW,” Executive Director of the Australian Doctors’ Fund, Mr Stephen Milgate said in Sydney today.

Despite the new Premier’s public acknowledgement that rural Australians have been marginalised, her Health Minister and Deputy Premier, Carmel Tebbutt closes 4 beds in a NSW rural district hospital.

Until yesterday, Coonabarabran Hospital had 25 real beds; it is serviced by local GPs who live near the hospital to provide 24/7 emergency and acute services. It’s the type of hospital model that should be replicated across NSW, in both urban and rural areas, and not marginalised to make way for office space that already exists on the hospital grounds.

“As usual there was no consultation with the doctors who work at the hospital. The new Premier should have this decision reversed and show a real commitment to the people of rural NSW”, Mr Milgate said.

“This is a classic case of closing beds to open desks”, Mr Milgate said.

The Australian Doctors’ Fund supports the establishment of independent boards in all public hospitals that will act to ensure that bureaucratic decisions do not undermine patient care.