ALBURY hospital is facing a critical shortage of doctors with urgent cases needing to be diverted to Wagga if more medics can not be found.
The chief executive of Albury Wodonga Health Michael Kalimnios said the NSW government's ban on the hospital drawing locums from Melbourne had sparked a scramble for temporary staff from NSW.
"If we're unable to source those staff we do have a critical workforce shortage and we will need to consider over the next few days alternatives," Mr Kalimnios said.
"(That) may mean we will have to start diverting urgent cases, particularly via ambulance, to other centres such as Wagga.
"Obviously we're not in that position yet, but we are starting to plan for that."
Mr Kalimnios said two-thirds of the medical workforce were locums, representing up to 65 shifts a week.
He said the impact of the shortfall would be felt in the emergency department from Thursday and on the intensive care unit in two to three weeks, at which point services would need to be reduced.
Mr Kalimnios said he was working on the basis that the government would not backdown on having Melbourne staff, given the capital's COVID-19 outbreak, and seeking help from NSW Health and the Murrumbidgee Local Health District to recruit locums.
IN OTHER NEWS:
"It's always about getting that balance between that issue, about not spreading COVID, and continuing to maintain critical services in a place like Albury-Wodonga," he said.
Melbourne locums, who generally have a six-week stint with Albury Wodonga Health, will continue to work at Wodonga Hospital.
Meanwhile, the latest border permit crackdown has also resulted in three physiotherapists and a podiatrist being unable to see patients in the North East.
Flex Out Physiotherapy and The Foot Centre have Wangaratta and Myrtleford clinics which benefit from the quartet travelling from Albury-Wodonga to consult.
However, last Friday's permit changes mean that group cannot travel as before.
Foot Centre director Alison Fitzgerald said without podiatrist Jordan Crawford able to come from Albury, appointments were being delayed and other podiatrists were working longer hours to cover the shortfall in service.
"It's horrendously frustrating, not just for me and my staff, but for my patients who it's affecting as well - they're the ones that are suffering," Ms Fitzgerald said.
Flex Out Physiotherapy director Rebecca Piazza said she had two physios and an exercise physiotherapist who could not travel to Wangaratta from the Twin Cities.
The pair has appealed to member for Albury Justin Clancy and member for Indi Helen Haines for help in gaining exemptions.
Mr Clancy said he had raised the matter with the NSW Health Minister but could not say when a remedy may be found.
Dr Haines said she took the issue to NSW cross border commissioner James McTavish who told her he had also alerted the minister Brad Hazzard to the situation.