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“The doctor won’t see you now…“

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Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) is once again under the spotlight as the Barham Hospital had been left with no doctors after the contractual arrangement with Ochre Health ran out on November 30.

Barham Hospital

The original five-year contract to provide doctors to the hospital between MLHD and Ochre Health had been extended by MLHD for an additional 14 months until last Thursday’s deadline.

MLHD had issued a tender for the new contract, but that is yet to be finalised.

Ochre Health Chief Medical Officer, Dr Francois Pretorius, says Ochre has responded to MLHD’s tender process to provide hospital support services and awaits the outcome. He says, “We remain committed to serving the community and we have doctors ready to cover the hospital roster. While we await guidance from the MLHD regarding a service agreement, our medical centre obviously remains open. MLHD has also today (Wednesday, December 6) provided a temporary contract to cover the period until the outcome of the tender process is known and we are working with them to reinstate services as soon as possible.” 

Having the multimillion-dollar facility sitting idle due to a bureaucratic standoff has greatly frustrated local doctors and distressed patients seeking treatment.

David Paul of Wakool was one such local left in limbo.

“The person I’m caring for suffers from a red blood cell disorder and has to have transfusions,” said David.

“We’ve got to have the blood taken, type matched, sent away, then the corresponding blood sent back to us the next day so that he can have the transfusion, and has to be cleared by the doctors.

“Because the doctors can’t be on site, or get on site, we can’t get it done.

“So, in the meantime, the poor fella can hardly breathe and get around because he hasn’t got energy, which is derived from the circulation of the red blood cells through the body.”

David fears for the impacts also on the wider community.

“If someone has a heart attack, what’s gonna happen? If a child needs a doctor at the hospital, what’s going to happen?

“There’s just too many questions that are unanswered.

“It’s devastating, you know, you shouldn’t have to go through this.

“I am now retired, a retired farmer, paid all my taxes and done the right thing, and the system is now letting us down and I really think that the government is not doing enough to govern the country and run the place.”

MLHD was contacted for comment, but The Bridge did not receive a response by deadline.

The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper 7 December 2023

This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 7 December 2023.


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