Patients and nurse at the Covid Clinic at Tweed Heads Hospital in NSW. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Steve Holland
Patients and nurse at the Covid Clinic at Tweed Heads Hospital in NSW. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Steve Holland

EXPLAINED: How the border changes affect Tweed Hospital

UPDATE 2PM:

INTENSIVE Care Specialist at Tweed Hospital and Chair of the Medical Staff Council, Dr Mike Lindley-Jones, welcomed today's announcement for new medical border passes for patients and workers.

He said assuming all staff were granted the border special medical worker exemption passes the Tweed Hospital should be able to continue to operate.

"The big picture is looking after people and keep people safe," he said.

"The important message from the Tweed medical staff is - yes, it's important that we social distance, it's important we wash our hands and wear face masks as directed and protecting people from COVID and preventing transmission is a key thing to maintaining a healthy population but COVID is not the only disease that is out there in the population," he said.  

"Tweed Emergency Department sees 200 people per day with various conditions and 20 per cent of those are critical. 

"There are people with other medical conditions and we shouldn't overlook that in our enthusiasm to prevent transmission of COVID-19... so I urge the Queensland Government to take this into account and apply measures for the benefit of everyone.

"Patients need to be able to access treatment."

EARLIER:

NORTHERN NSW Health District's top boss has squashed concerns the Tweed Hospital would close should Queensland enforce harsher border restrictions.

In a statement released today, chief executive Wayne Jones said contingency plans being implemented at the hospital would ensure "all efforts are being made to minimise any impacts on service delivery".

Many had worried the hospital would be understaffed due to the Queensland border lockdown as a significant number of staff live in the Sunshine State.

For many staff who live outside the 'border bubble' postcodes, under the current border restrictions medical workers would be forced to move to NSW or quarantine each time they travelled to Queensland.

The announcement of a new border pass exemption for medical workers today has solved some of these issues.

It effectively means, a medical professional who lives in Queensland and works in Tweed, and vice versa, would be able to travel to and from work without quarantine.

"The NNSWLHD is also negotiating with clinical and non-clinical staff to understand which staff, who live in QLD but work in NSW, are able to continue to provide their services if alternate accommodation arrangements are made," Mr Jones said.

"All efforts are being made to limit the impact of border closures on our NNSWLHD hospitals and it is important to note that more than 20 per cent of patients attending the Tweed Hospital Emergency Department are QLD residents, and these patients will be required to attend Queensland-based hospitals for care."

Mr Jones explained the Local Health District, NSW Health, and the NSW Government were "working tirelessly with the Queensland Government and Queensland Health to overcome these unprecedented challenges".

"The current restrictions imposed by Queensland requires NNSWLHD to review services, including non-urgent elective surgery, to ensure we have appropriate levels of clinical staff to manage urgent and emergency presentations," he said.


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