Unlucky breaks send patients up highway

SANCTUARY Point man Wally Bourke has launched a campaign to have a fracture clinic re-established at Shoalhaven Hospital.

Mr Bourke fractured his knee during a fall before Christmas and has had to undergo treatment in Wollongong.

People with bone breaks are now routinely transferred to Wollongong, where they are referred to the Illawarra fracture clinic.

For many patients there is a long and painful delay from when they first seek treatment in the emergency departments of Shoalhaven and Milton hospitals to when they are seen in Wollongong.

Mr Bourke initially sought treatment at Milton, where X-rays confirmed a broken knee, yet he was told he could not be treated locally and would have to go to Wollongong.

“It is a disgrace. Shoalhaven residents, especially children, cannot be treated locally,” Mr Bourke said.

“Surely in today’s world we can get a fracture clinic here in the Shoalhaven.

“I had to wait a week to get treatment in Wollongong as it was closed for Christmas, but when I finally got up there I couldn’t believe the number of local people who were up there.

“This area is growing and it needs to have its own fracture clinic.

“It made me cranky to see what these kids have to go through just to get treatment.

“It’s not about me or my treatment, I’m a grandfather and I couldn’t believe what these young kids go through. It’s a disgrace.

“Kids break bones all the time. They should be able to be treated locally. Something has got to happen.”

He said he has since learnt that the Illawarra clinic is the only such facility south of Sutherland.

Kiama Gareth Ward MP said claims people needed to go Wollongong for all fractures were not true.

“If it is a simple broken bone that can be treated locally at Shoalhaven Hospital by a doctor, it is,” he said.

“If it is a more complicated fracture that requires an orthopaedic surgeon, we have one of those available at Shoalhaven Hospital, but in the case he is unavailable, the next nearest service is at Wollongong.

“We have one orthopaedic surgeon at Shoalhaven and he can’t work 24 hours a day.

“Like any specialist service we don’t have in the Shoalhaven, if that is what is required there may be the need to seek specialist treatment outside the Shoalhaven region.”

Mr Ward said in three years as the local MP he hadn’t received a letter about the need for a local fracture clinic but did say if anyone had concerns he would like to hear about them.

“If anyone has any experiences please come and raise them with me, I can’t take up the case for such a service if nothing has been presented to me,” he said.

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