The NSW Nurses Association rightly prevented health district chief executive Chris Crawford from replacing Mullum’s night doctor with teleconferencing technology.
But instead of an apology to the community for the anxiety caused, Mr Crawford instead explained to The Echo that ‘Mullum is not ready at the moment to do it on a doctor-to- nurses basis.’
And while Mullum Hospital nurse Shauna Boyle told The Echo that nurses were not against telehealth per say, they were opposed to having to operate the video-link system without a doctor.
Here’s where the message was lost: she also added that staff at other hospitals using the system told them it was never meant to replace a doctor. So – was the rollout of this technology meant to complement existing staffing levels or replace them?
Clearly in Mullum’s case it was to replace, while other hospitals that didn’t have a night doctor, it was a complement to existing staffing levels. Cost-cutting under the guise of ‘new technology’ is austerity by stealth, and while Mr Crawford may have been given the hatchet job to try to skim a budget, The Echo suggests he could start with his own salary.
According to www.abc.net.au on November 24 this year, the latest salary increases granted to top bureaucrats in New South Wales rose by nearly $12,000.
‘The [bureaucrat] heads of the premier’s department, Trade and Infrastructure NSW are now all being paid well in excess of $500,000,’ claims the article.
Labor’s Walt Secord told the ABC reporter, ‘A 2.5 per cent increase to a nurse or a teacher does not compare to a bureaucrat on $400,000 a year. You cannot compare them,’ he said. ‘That is coming at a time when the state government’s cutting 5,000 public sector jobs and slashing $1.7 billion from education.’ Mr Secord also said that the director-general of Premier and Cabinet will now earn $545,000. ‘That’s substantially more than the premier,’ he said.
Fortunately this outcome was not decided by bureaucrats but by nurses, who are paid much much less.
If there’s one essential service that communities can’t do without, it’s hospitals and their staff.
Generally we are born there, it’s there for us in life-threatening situations and it’s also a drop-off point when we expire.
The long-term erosion of our local services is well known and Mullumbimby is now experiencing a premature wind-down at the hands of a bureaucrat who won’t even answer basic cost analysis questions.
The Byron Central Hospital is still years off, yet cutting the Mullum night doctor is being considered in October in favour of video-conferencing.
This insane decision comes as our region experiences population growth, along with the state government’s recent approval of Splendour In The Grass, which will add more visitors.
Both of these issues were raised with our local minister Don Page and minister for health and medical research Jillian Skinner, but they didn’t elicit a response.
While health boss Chris Crawford – who lives in the region – defends his vision for the region in the letters pages, it is clear he has a PR problem. Who would regard his 12 years of service in local health bureaucracy as inspiring?
Imagine what a six-figure salary could provide to the residents of Mullumbimby instead of ambiguously worded press releases.
It’s also interesting what being in government does to one’s integrity too. Thankfully Byron Council supports the community’s efforts to retain our essential services, but Minister Page’s response to this matter is a major concern. Mr Page spent many years in
the political wilderness but now he’s in government he sees it appropriate to support bureaucratic decisions without question.
It’s not only a cop-out but a slap in the face to our health professionals. This region needs better representation as these people are clearly not succeeding in their efforts towards our interests or wellbeing.