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Cut-backs to remote area nurse service call-outs

Dingee Bush Nursing Centre and Rochester and Elmore District Health Service are set to rule out an ongoing 24-hour, seven day-a-week remote area nurse service.

ELAINE COONEY February 6, 2013 4:42am

Dingee Bush Nursing Centre will rule out an ongoing 24-hour, seven day-a-week remote area nurse service at its next meeting.

The service, which has been operating from the DBNC for seven years, aims to provide emergency care before Ambulance Victoria arrives.

Rochester and Elmore District Health Service chief executive Matt Sharp said he supported the DBNC board’s decision and said REDHS would not reinstate the 24-hour, seven day-a-week RAN service when it absorbs DBNC operations.

DBNC board chair John Twigg said recent DBNC discussions related to cutting the RAN service down to business hours because of occupational health and safety reasons.

He said it had not yet been implemented but would be agreed at the next board meeting at the end of the month.

‘‘The RAN attending call-outs after hours has a number of occupational health and safety issues to be responsible for, including attending the RAN call-outs alone and in the dark,’’ he said.

Dingee Concerned Citizens spokesperson Robyn Brown said the long-term consequences to the community had not been considered.

‘‘The ‘golden hour’ of pre-hospital stabilisation of a patient in an emergency situation could be compromised (with the 40-hour RAN coverage),’’ she said.

Mr Twigg said ambulance officers were required to have a 10-hour break after incidents to ensure they were rested for the next call-out to perform their duties.

‘‘If a similar process requiring a break between RAN call-outs was implemented at DBNC, then it would impact on the opening hours the following day as the majority of the time the DBNC operates a sole practice,’’ he said.

Mr Twigg said the majority of remote area nurses at bush nursing centres across Victoria did not attend emergency cases after-hours due to the occupational health and safety issues.

Mr Sharp said he had preliminary discussions with Ambulance Victoria regarding the establishment of a community emergency response team in Dingee.

‘‘Because of the way they operate, community emergency response teams is an initiative that would need to be driven by the community, not something that Rochester and Elmore District Health Service or Dingee Bush Nursing Centre Board of Management would necessarily drive,’’ he said.

‘‘However, Rochester and Elmore District Health Service would be able to assist where possible, if requested.’’

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