Monday, May 17, 2010

Calls for Return of Eye Surgery at Katoomba Hospital

28 Apr, 2010 09:00 AM

NSW opposition health spokesperson Jillian Skinner has called for the return of eye surgery at Katoomba Hospital to address a growing waiting list, describing the issue as a “no-brainer”.

Mrs Skinner met a Leura-based specialist on Thursday, April 15 to discuss the regional demand for eye surgery and told the Gazette a short time later Katoomba Hospital has the capacity to help eye patients if funding was allocated.

“Katoomba Hospital has everything it needs — all the equipment and staff — to deliver cataract surgery, except the funding,”Mrs Skinner said.

“It’s not expensive to provide this service, it costs about $3000 per procedure and only takes 1.5 to two hours to do.

“The procedure is being done at Springwood Hospital, but has been reduced from 66 operations per year to just 27.

“It is a false economy not to provide this service to people who desperately need it.”

But the Sydney West Area Health Service said extra eye surgery sessions have commenced at Springwood and Lithgow hospitals to reduce planned surgery waiting times.

Given the high cost of specialised equipment for eye surgery, and to make the best use of public resources, the spokesperson said “it is most efficient to provide eye surgery in specialised centres”.

Mrs Skinner met two women outside Katoomba Hospital who need cataracts removed but had no idea when they will progress in the queue.

Eileen Connell had been on the waiting list for eye surgery since March 2009 to remove a cataract in one eye and said vision in her other eye is also poor. The Gazette understands she has since had her surgery booked for next week.

Single mother of four, Sharon Craufurd, was told two months ago by her doctor she requires eye surgery urgently, with deteriorating vision most likely related to liver failure she suffered in 2004.

“My doctor said I could be legally blind by the end of this year if nothing is done,” Sharon said.

“I got a letter yesterday saying I’m on a waiting list for another 12 months.”

Big turn-out at Springwood health forum

Blue Mountains residents packed a public forum at Springwood last week, to have their say on the Federal Government’s health reforms.

Hosted by the Federal Labor candidate for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, the forum at Springwood Sports Club attracted community health workers, nurses, doctors, other health workers and the general public.

Ms Templeman said there were many valuable insights from people about issues that need to be considered as the reforms are implemented.

“There is a clear message from the community that they expect to be consulted about and involved in the roll out of the new independent primary health care organisations and the local hospitals network,” she said.

“And I am very supportive of the views that were put that the 1300 new hospital beds and 2500 new aged care beds need to be supported by additional qualified nursing staff.”

Guest speaker Barbra Monley, a member of the NSW Nurses Association who works at Blue Mountains Hospital, reminded the audience that the best health care required “the right nurse, in the right place, at the right time”.

Chair of the Division of General Practice, Dr Andrew Knight, said that “a lot of sensible people” had been consulted during the development of the Federal Government’s health reforms, but that it was important that local consultation occurred for the next steps.

Ms Templeman said the forum showed there was a strong desire in the community for change in the health system.

“The Rudd Government has the political will to make these historic changes, and Tony Abbott will be going against community wishes if he chooses to block these reforms in the Senate,” she said.

Liberal candidate for Macquarie, Louise Markus — who did not attend the forum — said Blue Mountains residents remain “no better informed as to how many extra doctors, nurses, and aged care places will be provided under the Rudd Labor government’s so-called health reforms”.

“For the last 30 months Kevin Rudd has flown around Australia talking about health reforms. In the last six weeks Mr Rudd has continued talking but cannot say exactly when, where or how these reforms will be delivered.”

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Controversial Sydney West Area Health Chief Resigns

Controversial Sydney West Area Health chief resigns

SYDNEY West Area Health Service chief executive Prof Steven Boyages resigned last week amid controversy over his handling of the job.

Prof Boyages had been in the top job of the area health service, which includes Westmead and Auburn hospitals, for 10 years.

His tenure was dogged by controversy over debts to suppliers and by dissent among senior doctors and nurses over his management style.

Prof Boyages was not available for comment before the Advertiser’s deadline but it has been reported he will transfer to the newly created NSW Clinical Education and Training Institute.

The Advertiser had been told by senior clinicians in recent times that Prof Boyages, an endocrinologist, was not considered a good manager.

“He’s a brilliant clinician but not such a good administrator,’’ one senior specialist told the Advertiser.

Prof Boyages was still working as an endocrinologist while running the area health service.

NSW Health director general Debora Picone has been quoted as saying that Prof Boyages had ``as many supporters as detractors’’.