Bega hospital’s orthopaedic services review flagged after surgeon axed

Ahead of a public “crisis” meeting in Bega, there have been calls for an external review of the regional hospital’s orthopaedic services and the decision not to renew the contract of a Bega Valley surgeon.

Bega surgeon Chris Phoon said last week he was given just eight days’ notice his contract at the South East Regional Hospital would not be renewed after Tuesday.

Member for Bega Andrew Constance said on Monday, after conversations with both Dr Phoon and the Southern NSW Local Health District board over the weekend, he would like to see NSW Health's Agency for Clinical Innovation and the Royal Australasian College Of Surgeons involved in a review of not just the decision not to renew Dr Phoon’s contract but also their entire orthopaedic services.

“It is obvious there are two sides here, but it’s important to have this review process,” Mr Constance said.

“These external experts are best placed to provide me, and our community with the right advice on the matter.

“My expectation is that cultural issues be addressed within the hospital.”

Mr Constance said he had also been advised the AMA (Australian Medical Association) may also become involved.

The hospital has made recent changes to management, with Wendy Hubbard appointed as the new general  manager on February 20, and five new clinical leadership roles, including the addition of a new executive director of clinical operations.

Mr Constance said he hoped the changes would lead to better collaboration within the hospital and urged local surgeons not to undertake industrial action of their own.

“The last thing I want to see is lists for surgical procedures cancelled,” he said. “It will affect the community and everything should be done to stop it from happening.”

Dr Chris Phoon.

Dr Chris Phoon.

Orthopaedic surgeon Matthew Nott said he has cancelled his operating list for March, and will reconsider returning to work if Dr Phoon is reinstated and offered an official apology by the hospital.

Dr Nott also announced he will host a public meeting at the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre on Thursday, March 9, from 6pm to discuss the decision not to renew Dr Phoon’s contract.

“It is not business as usual because I won’t be going back until this is sorted out,” Dr Nott said.

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