Hopes of a permanent full time fracture clinic as part of Shoalhaven District Hospital $434 million upgrade are still being assessed according to the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.
Long-time advocate for a local service Wally Bourke has again raised the issue of accessing a local fracture clinic - something he has been fighting for more six years after fractured his knee during a fall prior to Christmas 2013 and having to undergo treatment in Wollongong.
While Shoalhaven Hospital offers a weekly fracture clinic each Wednesday, people with bone breaks are routinely transferred to Wollongong, where they are referred to the Illawarra fracture clinic.
Shoalhaven Local Health District Executive Director of Clinical Operations, Margaret Martin said at this stage no decisions had been made if the proposed $434m Shoalhaven hospital upgrade would include a permanent fracture clinic.
“Shoalhaven Hospital offers a weekly fracture clinic each Wednesday and the hospital employs two orthopaedic surgeons who are on-call to provide emergency orthopaedic trauma services two days a week and two weekends a month,” Ms Martin said.
“When patients require services outside of those service times they have the option of attending Wollongong Hospital or they can be referred to a local private orthopaedic practice.”
She said Shoalhaven Hospital manages less complex orthopaedic conditions, with major trauma patients referred to Wollongong Hospital for treatment.
“Shoalhaven Hospital is currently looking at expanding its on-call orthopaedic capacity to provide more services to the community,” she said.
At this stage however, it is too early to say if the hospital upgrade would include a permanent fracture clinic, but consultation with clinicians and the community for feedback was still being carried out.
Mr Bourke said the issue has been going on for six years and the response had simply been “not good enough”.
“Six years we have been going on about this - six years,” and exasperated Mr Bourke said.
“In that time the area has continued to grow exponentially and what has happened? Nothing.
“They can say only serious cases go through to Wollongong but I know from first hand experience and from talking to people the number of patients actually getting sent to Wollongong.
“I know, I had to go up there each week, just for an X-ray.
Just recently I heard of another student at a local school who fell over and broke their wrist - and where did they end up? Wollongong.
“It’s called infrastructure - the area has grown so much in the last six years but what’s happened on this front? Nothing.”
And it’s not just the Liberal Party in his sights.
Mr Bourke, a staunch Labor supporter, even took aim at that party.
“Labor hasn’t done anything or offered anything either,” he said.
“Daley [Labor leader Michael Daley] was here the other week with his bus but there was no commitment.
“Neither side has committed to it. It's a much-needed, vital service the local area needs.”
Although during his visit Mr Daley reiterated Labor's $434 million Shoalhaven hospital redevelopment promise was 'iron-clad'.
He said he has continually been told the hospital can’t attract orthopaedic specialists to the area.
“That’s BS. Why not advertise Australia wide?
“They’ve got to make it attractive for the surgeons to come here.”