Upgrade no cure for lack of doctors

Jessica CuthbertAlbany Advertiser
Katanning Hospital
Camera IconKatanning Hospital

Katanning residents are still voicing their concerns about their town’s hospital, claiming even after a $35 million upgrade there will still be a shortage of doctors’ and limited assistance in the emergency department.

But WA Country Health Service regional director Geraldine Ennis has defended the facilities, saying WACHS is working to manage gaps in the medical roster.

Ms Ennis said they would be offering several incentives to doctors employed in rural and regional WA.

“This includes a financial incentive that increases annually and is higher than the amount provided to equivalent medical staff in the metropolitan area,” she said.

Currently, Katanning Health Service employs more than 154 staff and contracts 35 doctors to provide a range of services to the community, further supported by local GP on-call arrangements.

“In the event that there is a deficit in the on-call roster, the service of an alternate visiting medical practitioner is sought,” Ms Ennis said.

She said patients were transferred to other hospitals for treatment only when clinically appropriate.

Despite the community concerns, she said she wanted to reassure the community that help was available.

“The community should be reassured that those requiring care through the emergency department will always receive it.”

Broomehill’s Rebecca Payne said after two visits to the hospital and being directed to Albany, the situation at the hospital needed to be addressed.

Ms Payne said she recently took one of her sons to the emergency department and while the nurses were extremely helpful, he had to be sent to Albany because there was no doctor.

“Because there is no hospital doctor they couldn’t put him in the hospital in Katanning. They had to send him to Albany but because there was no ambulance available in Katanning he had to wait for one from Albany to pick him up,” she said.

“This started at 9am and he got to Albany at 6.45pm and it’s the second time we have had to do this so far this year. I would hate to see what happens if there is a real accident in the area.”

“It definitely needs to be addressed ... The (hospital) upgrade is great and has made a huge difference for the nurses but it’s not as useful without a doctor.”

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