NEW Health Minister John Della Bosca floated the idea of reintroducing hospital-based management teams across NSW during a crisis meeting with doctors in Dubbo yesterday.
Mr Della Bosca toured the Dubbo Base Hospital with local MP Dawn Fardell and Mayor Greg Matthews to discuss the cash-flow problems besetting the hospital, which has debts of more than $16 million.
The Rees Government was humiliated when it was revealed that supplies were so scarce at Dubbo Base Hospital that it is borrowing bandages from the local vet.
Just four weeks ago, a doctor had to use $770 of his own money to buy reagent for urgent blood tests because the hospital had run out of credit with the supplier, while endoscopies have had to be rescheduled for lack of sterilisation fluid.
Clinicians yesterday demanded Greater Western Area Health Service chief executive Dr Claire Blizard be excluded from their meeting with Mr Della Bosca. Doctors told the minister that they wanted more money for the embattled hospital and a guaranteed capital works budget for its renovations.
Mr Della Bosca floated an idea before the doctors of a return to hospital-based management teams working together with clinicians in resourcing and recruitment decisions to break the chokehold of bureaucracy on supply lines.
A spokesman for the minister said the idea, which has not been formalised, would rejuvenate the sense of ownership and self-determination for local hospitals across country and metropolitan NSW. He rejected any suggestion that such a system would see the return of appointed hospital boards.
The minister said there was no magic solution to the money shortages.
"The most important thing is, I think, is that supplies are paid, so we don’t have these creditor problems," Mr Della Bosca told Nine news. But he offered no detail.
Dubbo hospital medical staff council chairman Dr Dean Fisher said hospital-based management teams would be an important first step but nothing would change without a major cash injection.
"It was North Shore last week … it’s Dubbo this week. It will be somewhere else in the next fortnight," he said.