Western NSW Local Health District under fire after amputation

PATIENT SURVEY: The latest Bureau of Health Information patient surveys show 97 per cent of respondents at both Dubbo Hospital and Cobar MPS rated their care as "very good" or "good".
PATIENT SURVEY: The latest Bureau of Health Information patient surveys show 97 per cent of respondents at both Dubbo Hospital and Cobar MPS rated their care as "very good" or "good".

The Western NSW Local Health District is defending the services it delivers to rural communities after a Cobar grazier had a toe amputated at Dubbo Hospital.

John Stingemore claims to have been turned away from Cobar's new Multi-Purpose Service (MPS) where he presented with an infected blister.

After being prescribed antibiotics by a GP, the grazier's condition worsened and he returned to the MPS because the GP surgery had closed for Christmas.

But Mr Stingemore claims problems arose in transporting him to Dubbo, leading to a longer stay at the MPS where he was without antibiotics.

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After initially receiving intravenous antibiotics at Dubbo Hospital, Mr Stingemore claims a shortage of nurses delayed a second dose.

The incident is reported to have stirred up residents of Cobar where services including surgical and maternity were shut down years ago.

Member for Barwon Roy Butler says procedures such as changing a dressing or stitching a wound are not a given in some facilities in his electorate, blaming it on the battle to get medical staff to come to the bush, cost cutting and a risk-adverse culture.

The health district has responded with a statement expressing confidence in the "highly-skilled and committed workforce" at the Cobar MPS.

"The Cobar Health Service provides excellent care to the population of around 4000 residents of Cobar Shire in a fully-redeveloped facility opened in January this year," its spokesman said.

"The new facility includes emergency, medical imaging, dialysis and more community health services under the one roof."

The spokesman said major referral hospitals at Dubbo, Orange and Bathurst provided higher acute care while smaller facilities focused on stabilising and supporting patients with serious injuries or illnesses, and transferring them safely to where the services they needed were available.

He said collaboration across the health district had led to innovative programs such as the Virtual Rural Generalist Service which built on the Remote Medical Consultation Service "to provide 24-hour virtual support for clinical staff in more remote settings".

The latest Bureau of Health Information patient surveys show 97 per cent of respondents at both Dubbo Hospital and Cobar MPS rated their care as "very good" or "good".

The health district spokesman said it sought to provide the best possible care at all times.

"However, when patients have concerns about their treatment they are always encouraged to raise these issues with staff so they can be promptly resolved," he said.