Saffin confident of a cross-border health fix for Tenterfield patients

Lismore MP Janelle Saffin believes there is no reason why the majority of Tenterfield Hospital patients needing a higher level of care cannot be transferred to Stanthorpe Hospital a 40-minute drive away, or another Queensland hospital.

Ms Saffin is confident this patient transfer arrangement will become the norm following a meeting in Sydney this month with a 'very responsive' NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard, which was attended by Tenterfield Shire Council Deputy Mayor Cr Greg Sauer.

The longtime campaigner for better health services is further encouraged by advice from Minister Hazzard's Queensland counterpart Dr Steven Miles' office that there are no legal or other blocks from their side to implementing a cross-border health fix more medically suitable for locals.

Ms Saffin said the legacy issue of Tenterfield Shire residents having to be transferred inland to Armidale, with stops on the way, or further south to Newcastle had been around for many years but she was committed to getting the best outcomes for the community and our nurses.

"Since my election in March, about two dozen people have approached me with a litany of what I would call woe; theirs are terrible stories really of being shunted from here to there and not what anyone would consider to be 'optimal' medical care," Ms Saffin said.

"However, the best advice is that there are is no legislation which prevents the Hunter-New England Local Health District from sending patients from Tenterfield to Queensland hospitals and Stanthorpe, which is a Level 5 trauma and referral hospital on the Darling Downs and much closer.

"I also met the Cross-Border Commissioner James McTavish in Lismore last Thursday (November 29) and he too confirmed that a health service-to-health service arrangement was workable, and had no legal barriers - it just needs to happen."

Ms Saffin said another legacy issue was that Tenterfield Hospital had not had a 3x3x3 nursing roster for quite some time, and while she had successfully lobbied to restore the 3x2x2 after Hunter-New England LHD cut it to 2x2x2 earlier this year, she had asked Mr Hazzard for more nurses as a priority.

"One of my election commitments was for more nurses at small country hospitals like Tenterfield, which was agreed to by then Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord," Ms Saffin said.

"The Coalition's commitment was to employ an extra 5000 nurses over four years. Surely, two or three of those extra nurses could go to Tenterfield.

"If the local nurses are not supported we cannot expect them to be able to support us."

Ms Saffin was sympathetic to some calls to come under the Northern NSW Local Health District but such a move may not be required if the legacy issues can be resolved in the near future.

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