Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Discord over Hospital Board Proposal; North Coast Doctors and Nurses Differ on Abbott Health Plan

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Discord over Hospital Board Proposal; North Coast Doctors and Nurses Differ on Abbott Health Plan

Article excerpt

Byline: Christine Tondorf news@northernstar.com.au

NORTH Coast doctors and nurses are at odds over a proposal put forward by Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to reintroduce local hospital boards.

On the weekend, Mr Abbott promised that within six months of being elected he would set up local boards to run public hospitals in NSW and Queensland.

The Lismore Base Hospital Medical Staff Council, that represents local doctors, said it was time the control of hospitals was taken away from the bureaucrats and given back to the community.

However, the NSW Nurses' Association spokesman at Lismore Base Hospital said hospitals were part of a statewide system and must be overseen by a central - not local - body.

Dr Chris Ingall, spokesman for the Lismore Base Hospital Medical Staff Council, said hospital boards would again make the health department answerable to the community.

"We've always said we love the idea of valley governance - in our case Richmond Valley governance," Dr Ingall said.

"We think there should be a hospital board controlling Lismore Base and the smaller feeder hospitals - one board co-ordinating all aspects of patient care in the area."

Dr Ingall said the advantage of a local board was that if a patient needed an operation at Lismore Base and then follow-up physio at a smaller hospital, one board would oversee both local care-givers.

He said these boards must be independent, not government-controlled.

"And health carers and patients must be represented," he said.

Dr Ingall said he was not concerned individuals with no medical training might be elected to the boards.

"We had hospital boards in the past and we ended up with high quality individuals who knew the community," he said.

The doctor said current boards only had an advisory role and no authority.

"There are no checks and balances left in our health care system," he said. …

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