Mount Gambier Hospital fails to recruit senior doctors as part of review into the South East service

  • Review: Hospital must employ more staff to ease ED safety fears

SENIOR doctors and physicians are snubbing Mount Gambier Hospital, which is failing to attract staff after a scathing review into its service earlier this year.

The Sunday Mail can reveal Country Health SA is struggling to fill vacancies for four doctors and find funding for two much-needed physicians at the South East hospital.

The recruitment of additional staff was part of 22 recommendations, made in March, to overhaul the hospital’s emergency department, after reports of patient safety being put at risk.

An independent review, conducted late last year, found the reliance of locums and the lack of staff experience and leadership were key problems facing the hospital.

Country Health SA set aside $536,000 to staff a new after hours shift, as required under the audit, but it has yet to be established.

South East regional director Jayne Downs said recruitment was ongoing for up to four new doctors to fill the new 4pm-midnight shift, seven days a week.

“We’re been recruiting enthusiastically, but we haven’t secured sufficient staff to cover the additional shift,” Ms Downs said.

“Hospitals are always recruiting, so doctors have a lot of choice and it’s not unusual to have 100 to 200 applicants for resident posts, but (securing) senior experienced doctors is difficult.

“We’ve been close a couple of times.”

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Ms Downs said they had unsuccessfully sought Commonwealth funding for two full time physicians — recommended as part of the audit — and would reapply for funding soon.

She said eight of the 22 recommendations had been implemented, including the appointment of a new ED director and triage nurse.

“The important thing is how dramatic the change has been under the new ED director in terms of education and skill. It’s a totally different place and doctors are more confident and work as a team.

“The change has been positive and dramatic and can only continue as we recruit additional staff to bolster the team. We’ve had less complaints and certainly no serious complaints.”

However, the Australian Nurses and Midwifery Association SA branch said a further 10-11 nurses were needed, following its own review of the hospital.

The union’s Rob Bonner said Country Health SA had refused their request and they would discuss with its members this week on the next course of action.

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