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Doctors ‘sick’ of deteriorating conditions at John Hunter Hospital


Anger is growing among medical staff who’ve raised serious issues about the deteriorating conditions at John Hunter Hospital.

Twelve senior doctors, ranging from vascular surgeons, anaesthetists and an obstetrician, are shining a light on the poor surroundings the local health professionals are having to work in.

The dozen medics have co-signed an alarming letter, highlighting a significant decline in their ability to deliver satisfactory treatment to patients due to the standards of the Hunter New England Health (HNEH).

John Hunter Hospital.

“We provide high-quality health care to the people of the Hunter – and many of us have worked in HNEH for many years,” they stated.

“So, all of us are acutely aware of the challenges posed in our region.

“However, there is a relative lack of primary health care, a predominantly co-morbid population, some of whom experience significant socio-economic deprivation.

“We are used to working with the strategic difficulties that come from covering a large geographical area, too.

“But, we’ve witnessed a significant deterioration in our ability to deliver appropriate and timely health care.

“This has reached a crisis point.

“Our biggest concern is the continuing and worsening inadequate resourcing of our health service.

“We experience the stress and strain of this daily.

“There is grossly inadequate bed capacity, dangerously inadequate critical care capacity and inadequate urgent theatre access.

“Sadly, this was occurring pre-COVID.

“Every day, because of these shortages, we are forced to make decisions that seriously compromise both immediate clinical care and longer health outcomes.

“There’s the critical issue of worsening staff morale and growing culture of fear as well.”

The doctors also claim their clinical input into resource allocation is either ignored or rejected on the basis that they are not cost-neutral.

Wallsend state MP Sonia Hornery. Photo: Rod Thompson

Now, Wallsend state MP Sonia Hornery is calling on NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard to directly address the matter.

“These doctors have expressed their profound concerns about workload pressures, staff shortages, inadequate equipment and IT support and poor resource allocation,” she said.

“The letter is a damning indictment on the way this government is running our state’s health system.

“John Hunter Hospital is the largest regional hospital in the state.

“It needs to be resourced appropriately.

“It’s always concerning for me to hear that staff are not having their complaints adequately addressed by HNEH and that there is a culture of silencing and fear implicit in the workplace.

“We are hearing about a situation where the largest regional hospital in NSW has doctors who are being forced to compromise patient safety because of improper equipment and inadequate resourcing.

“The government can no longer turn a blind eye to the obvious health crisis in our hospitals.

“Mr Hazzard needs to find a solution to the resourcing issue in John Hunter Hospital.”

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