Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Patient Care Further Eroded

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Patient Care Further Eroded

Article excerpt

AN OPEN letter concerning ongoing erosion of patient care:

I write this letter having been informed by the executive administration of Lismore Base Hospital of the unilateral predicted closure of the Lismore Base Hospital Multi-Disciplinary Pain Management Clinic.

I am sending it to you as I will be away for the next two weeks on previously planned annual leave and am exceedingly concerned that the preservation of Lismore's Multi-Disciplinary Pain Management Clinic be vigorously defended.

The most recent example of the North Coast Area Health Service and Lismore Base Hospital executives' blatant erosion of good patient care has been the decision to discontinue chronic pain services to patients in the region from Port Macquarie to the Queensland border, including inland areas of Tenterfield etc.

This razor gang mentality continues to show its true colours by now targeting one of the most vulnerable groups of patients in the community.

This decision comes as no surprise, considering the abysmal track record of the NCAS and LBH executive in relationship to optimal patient care within the Lismore Base Hospital and across the area under the North Coast Area Health Services umbrella.

Lismore Base Hospital has remarkably dedicated and competent personnel caring for patients with a complex array of medical conditions. They work, however, under the constant threat of not being able to supply optimum care to patients because of reduction in services, which not only includes nursing staff.

It has resulted in a sad, demoralising and insidiously dangerous situation, worsened by the blinkered and nonsensical approach by the play-safe puppets of the public health system.

In relationship to the Lismore Base Hospital Multi-Disciplinary Pain Management Clinic (MPMC) and its impending disintegration, I would briefly like to elaborate.

This service has been in existence since 2003 with the intention at all times of hopefully being able to expand its services to meet the needs of an increasing number of patients in this area suffering from chronic pain conditions. Chronic non-malignant pain (pain present for three months or more) affects up to 20 per cent of the population, with a higher percentage in people over 65 years.

A higher proportion of the population have chronic pain compared with other common long-term conditions, including hypertension, asthma, etc. Chronic pain includes all types of pain, such as neck pain, back pain, abdominal and pelvic pain, pain related to injuries, particularly work related, etc.

Chronic pain related to cancer is another major group.

In 2007, statistics showed that the cost of chronic pain to the community was around $34 billion, which included the burden of disease and productivity costs with $7 billion attributed to health system costs. …

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