CONCERN has been voiced over the running of the Merriwa Multipurpose Service (MPS) with claims patients in need of serious treatment are being sent to Scone, Muswellbrook and Maitland.
The Merriwa MPS is a 25-bed facility that was built in 2009 and is one of six health services located in the Hunter Valley Sector.
The hospital provides emergency, acute, residential aged care, respite, palliative and community service.
However, Merriwa resident Adam Hodges says the facility is not being used to its full potential.
“It is up-to-date and fully-equipped, but it is still very hard to get anything done – this shouldn’t be an ongoing issue,” he claimed.
According to the Merriwa MPS 2015-2016 Local Health Report, recruitment and retention of staff has been a “major challenge for the committee” and an “ongoing issue.”
“Utilisation of the MPS has been generally good and has increased since a second general practitioner/visiting medical officer is now providing an on-call service,” the report stated.
Mr Hodges isn’t convinced and says he is not the only one complaining about how difficult it is to get treatment.
“A friend of mine lives out at Pembroke Road on a property – his young son James broke his arm last month out there and when he got in was told to go to Muswellbrook or Maitland.”
“This is a normal occurrence when you turn up here to get something done,” he said.
“There was another recent incident with a friend of mine’s daughter fainting and having hot and cold flushes.
“It was 3.30 in the afternoon and they told her to go to the children’s hospital at Maitland, which is a two-hour drive – not to mention traffic and school hours.”
Health Service Manager at Merriwa MPS Hilary Tearle has defended the claims, saying the hospital does not turn people away who present themselves to the Emergency Department and they are instead triaged and the most appropriate option for care is considered.
“Merriwa MPS is supported by visiting medical officers and doctors who are located in larger hospitals via telehealth technology,” she said.
“Telehealth technology also allows doctors and specialists based in Maitland Hospital to assess patients via videoconference with the support of staff in Merriwa.”
According to Ms Tearle, patients may then be transported to a larger centre for more specialist care following the assessment with the mode of transfer determined by the clinician.
Mr Hodges, who has written to the hospital and Upper Hunter MP Michael Johnsen numerous times about the issue, says he is not convinced.
“Even for something as simple as your kid getting stitches, the hospital ends up turning people away and telling them to go Muswellbrook or Maitland children’s hospital – the residents deserve better,” he said.
“The car park has recently been re-tarred – why is money being spent on a perfectly adequate car park when the focus needs to be on more doctors, nurses and trainees?
“Something needs to be done as it’s not fair on the locals.”