Nurse turned away with nearly severed thumb
A nurse who had her thumb operated on via video link amid a cost-saving drive that has robbed country towns of doctors may never work again due to the permanent damage to her hand.
Karen Hoye presented to her GP suffering a lacerated thumb and severed tendon three weeks ago and was referred for immediate attention by a qualified hand surgeon.
"When I went to Newcastle Hospital I was turned away from the hand surgeon," Ms Hoye said.
"I went back to my doctor, who ended up ringing another hand surgeon and set up a video link, where he performed my surgery under his direction.
"My thumb is now infected and I have been on antibiotics ever since. I have also been on unpaid work leave for six weeks, which is hard because I'm the sole bearer."
Pressure is mounting on the government to address the shortage of doctors in regional communities after a woman died in hospital following treatment without a doctor physically present.
Schoolteacher Dawn Trevitt, 66, bled to death at Gulgong Hospital's emergency department after face-to-face doctors were replaced with treatment via video link outside of business hours.
The publicly owned Multi-Purpose Service in Gulgong has been without a doctor since June after the Western NSW Local Health District failed to renew the contract of Dr Nebras Yahya.
The LHS also failed to renew Gulgong Medical Practice's contract in July to provide on-call and Visiting Medical Officers to Gulgong MPS, following months of negotiation.
Shadow Rural Health Minister Kate Washington is calling on for a parliamentary inquiry to be established into the state's regional hospitals.
"Another day, another tragic story because of our second-class health system in rural and regional NSW," Ms Washington said.
"Sacking doctors and replacing them with telehealth facilities is inexcusable.
"Telehealth should complement local health professionals, not replace them."
Ms Washington said while locals living in rural and regional NSW "don't expect red carpet service", they do expect hospitals to have doctors.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has ordered a review into the hospital's department following Mrs Trevitt's death.
Rural Doctors Association of Australia CEO Peta Rutherford said telehealth care "should never be about replacement care" and instead needs to be "supplementary".
The lack of on-call doctors is a crisis being faced by many rural and district hospitals across the state.
It comes despite a 43 per cent increase of doctors employed within NSW Health in rural and regional areas since 2012.
Originally published as The tragic faces of the rural doctor shortage in NSW