Healthy Reasons to Trust Our Medicos; with 64 per Cent of Those Polled Believing Doctors Have Very High Ethical Standards, the Position of Tweed's Medical Staff Council Will Entrench the Public's View They Are a Profession to Be Trusted

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Byline: WEDNESDAY With Leonie Brann

A RECENT Morgan Gallup poll that places nurses and medical practitioners in the top five most ethical professions should be sobering reading for the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) executive.

The executive face a revolt from medical staff at The Tweed Hospital who say the facility is in crisis due to under-staffing and under-resourcing.

The hospital's Medical Staff Council has threatened to place the busy facility on bypass to most patients, only agreeing to treat new patients with life-threatening medical conditions, as well as the young and frail, if their demands for appropriate staff levels to be employed for 30 new beds at the hospital are not met by the NCAHS.

The staff council, made up of senior doctors, visiting medical officers and specialists say their hand has been forced to take a stand as the hospital is already operating at 108 per cent capacity.

They say they cannot sit back and wait for a major medical mishap due to staff being overworked or wards being under-resourced.

Dr Ian McPhee, one of the longstanding VMOs at the hospital, agreed doctors had an ethical responsibility to treat patients in need of care.

But he stressed the decision was not made lightly by the committed medical staff at the hospital, and was about providing optimum care for patients already in the hospital, rather than denying care to patients.

Last week, the NCAHS announced it would advertise two of three appointments needed to staff the 30 new beds, and confirmed last week that 12 of the new beds are now occupied.

The position of the staff council has been supported by the Tweed Valley Division of General Practice and local nurses, who agree that the situation has reached breaking point.

Doctors are listed as the fifth most trusted profession in the Morgan Gallup poll, and were beaten by nurses in first spot, primary school teachers in second, pharmacists in third and military officers in fourth. …

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