Association rejects surgeon’s claims

Dr Tracey Merriman says new specialists are to be appointed soon.
Dr Tracey Merriman says new specialists are to be appointed soon.

CLAIMS Albury Wodonga Health had suffered a drastic loss of experienced medical specialists was rejected yesterday.

Prominent Albury surgeon Roland von Marburg had said specialists with a combined experience of 400 years had been lost through retirements in recent years.

Dr von Marburg was commenting after revealing his own resignation from Albury Wodonga Health.

But Border Medical Association chairwoman Tracey Merriman yesterday indicated this was way off the mark.

“We have had several clinicians who have recently retired and obviously that’s always a loss of experience,” she said.

Dr Merriman said one senior clinician chose to move to Darwin recently.

“But many have stayed on in a consultative role for Albury Wodonga Health,” she said.

“And certainly Albury Wodonga Health is actively recruiting people and that’s supported by the Border Medical Association.”

Dr Merriman said the association was “hopeful” there would be an imminent announcement on the recruitment of new specialists for the service.

Dr Merriman is also chairwoman of Albury Wodonga Health’s medical consultative committee, which meant she was aware of the situation involving Dr von Marburg.

Dr von Marburg had told The Border Mail how he had wanted to reach a certain high level of care for public patients, but felt unable to do so with Albury Wodonga Health.

The loss of the ear, nose and throat surgeon from the service means about 130 patients will have to be reassessed to see if they still qualify for elective public surgery.

Dr Merriman said there had been “issues” with Dr von Marburg and Albury Wodonga Health about patient care over many years.

“Albury Wodonga Health has not taken a decision to accept Dr von Marburg’s resignation lightly,” she said.

Dr von Marburg was not willing to specify his differences over patient care, preferring to say “we have agreed to disagree on some important issues”.

The matter involving Dr von Marburg and Albury Wodonga Health has been referred by the service to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority.

Neither party wished to comment on the matter.

Regarding specialist recruitment, Dr Merriman said the Border medical community was aware “that we want to get people of the highest quality working here in Albury-Wodonga”.

“It’s not just numbers, it’s quality practitioners that are vital.”

Dr Merriman said the success of the association’s GP recruitment campaign over the past few years had helped make Albury-Wodonga more attractive to specialists.

“And it is preferable for GPs to work in a community where they have strong backup and support by a range of specialists,” she said.