No confidence vote: senior doctor's treatment causes ill feeling at Orange hospital

NO CONFIDENCE VOTE: Orange’s Medical Staff Council chair Dr Ruth Arnold hopes changes are under way to improve the workplace culture at Orange Health Service with calls for an independent administrator to be appointed following an extraordinary meeting of doctors on Monday night. Photo: PHIL BLATCH                                                                                  0520pbdoctors4
NO CONFIDENCE VOTE: Orange’s Medical Staff Council chair Dr Ruth Arnold hopes changes are under way to improve the workplace culture at Orange Health Service with calls for an independent administrator to be appointed following an extraordinary meeting of doctors on Monday night. Photo: PHIL BLATCH 0520pbdoctors4

At an extraordinary meeting of Orange’s Medical Staff Council (MSC) at Duntryleague Golf Club on Monday night, almost 100 doctors cast their vote claiming the senior cardiologist had been unfairly treated after he clashed with a clinician in another section of the hospital over patient welfare and lodged a subsequent complaint with hospital management in September last year.

By December the cardiologist had become the subject of a complaint and investigation, which the MSC claim was not handled by an independent investigator outside the health district.

At Monday night’s meeting doctors also demanded the immediate reinstatement of the cardiologist under investigation, claiming the hospital’s process was flawed and failed to follow NSW Health guidelines and procedures.

The doctors voted for the immediate appointment of an independent administrator while an independent review of management is carried out.

MSC chair Dr Ruth Arnold said the outcome of Monday night’s meeting would give courage to everyone working at the OHS.

“I hope that real changes are now on the way to improve the current workplace culture of fear, intimidation and reprisals against those who speak out,” Dr Arnold said.

WLHD chair Dr Robin Williams said he welcomed any review.

“The investigation has been undertaken with the best interests of patient care and a harmonious workplace in mind, whilst trying to support the clinician involved throughout the process,” Dr Williams said.

“The board unanimously supports the executive of the LHD and Orange hospital in managing a difficult situation within the proper process and looks forward to resolving this issue as quickly as possible.”

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner is on leave, however a spokesperson told the Central Western Daily (CWD) the Ministry of Health is undertaking an external review of an investigation into issues relating to a practising clinician at OHS following a complaint about the process.

“The relationship between the Orange Medical Staff Council and the management is a matter for the MSC and district board,” the spokesperson said.

The CWD has learned that prior to Monday night’s vote, MSC clinicians were informed that the cardiologist at the centre of the furore was distressed and concerned it may cause division within the medical community. 

They were also informed the cardiologist was keen to submit to a review of his case by the Interventional Council of the Cardiology Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Member for Orange Andrew Gee didn’t respond to the CWD’s request for comment.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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