WODONGA hospital’s director of emergency medicine, Dr Geoff Rofe, has resigned after Albury Wodonga Health announced plans for a trial transfer of nursing staff capacity from the hospital’s emergency department to its maternity unit.
Dr Rofe, who has previously headed emergency medicine at both Albury and Wodonga hospitals, has brought forward his departure date from 18 months to three months.
Yesterday, he said the trial nursing staff transfer would result in fewer nurses being available in an emergency department that was already under pressure.
“It would see a 20 per cent cubicle reduction in a department that is already far too small,” Dr Rofe said.
“I didn’t feel like I could do my job.
“Clearly I’m not happy with the decisions that have been made.”
Nursing unit manager Ann Cassidy said the reallocation of 40 nursing staff hours from the emergency department to maternity was part of a three-month trial to meet the increased demand for maternity outpatients services.
Ms Cassidy said about 3000 patients requiring maternity outpatients care presented annually at the emergency department, with illnesses and complaints related to their pregnancies.
“What has typically happened is that these cases were recorded by the emergency department,” she said.
“However, it is more appropriate to have these patients cared for by the midwives in the maternity unit,” she said.
Ms Cassidy said the 40 nursing staff hours that would be transferred in the trial was the equivalent of one nurse over a five day working week.
“There will be no other reductions in staff in the emergency department,” she said.
“The aim of the trial is to apply appropriate care in an appropriate location.”
Albury Wodonga Health chief Dr Stuart Spring said the service would look for a replacement.
“We had been planning for Geoff to move off at some stage,” he said.
“We have some people we are talking to but it is a difficult environment in which to recruit emergency practitioners in rural and regional Australia.”