RUMOUR MILL: Funding cuts at Ballina District Hospital have not been confirmed.
RUMOUR MILL: Funding cuts at Ballina District Hospital have not been confirmed. Jerad Williams

Threat of a bitter pill at Ballina Hospital

BALLINA Hospital's budget is facing the chop, which could see reduced staffing hours and an inadequate level of care, according to a hospital source.

The source, who did not want to be named, said if the cuts go ahead in mid-February they would result in specialist emergency department staff replaced by locums and a reduction in shifts for specialist doctors.

"Senior management at Lismore and Ballina have dropped a bombshell recently in regards to cuts to the emergency department at Ballina Hospital," the source said.

"They are completely cutting emergency department senior specialist cover; the four positions will be completely axed and replaced by locums."

"They are not going to be able to replace those four positions with locums, because locums will not be the same quality that these specialists are."

"It's definitely going to compromise safety and patient care and increase the rate of transfers to Lismore."

The source said the proposed cuts, which were currently on hold, were decided on with minimal consultation with staff, with all staff suggesting they were a bad idea.

"It's unacceptable for the health of local citizens that they are moving a substantial amount of care from an already established service."

"One of the ironies of this is that a lot of these middle management and their families live within the catchment of the Ballina Emergency Department."

The proposed budget cuts come on the back of the December announcement of $4.5 million in federal funding to upgrade Ballina Hospital's emergency department and operating theatre.

The reply from a NNSWLHD spokeswoman said no decision had been made to reduce medical officer hours in the Ballina Hospital Emergency Department


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