Large numbers of fed-up community members are expected to attend this weekend’s ‘Open the Doors with Level Four’ public rally to show their support for an improved Eurobodalla Regional Hospital, and to march alongside outraged Mourya doctor Michael Holland.
Dr Holland this week resigned from his position as VMO Obstetrician and Gynaecologist with the Southern NSW Local Health District following the release of a scathing Moruya Hospital Maternity Service Resilience Assessment which he claims “devalues the services provided by highly-respected, dedicated and skilled clinicians”.
The senior clinician has advocated for improved health services in the Eurobodalla for the past 19 years and says the review “ignores the root cause of unsafe neonatal services, which is the failure to provide paediatric services to the largest rural maternity service in the SNSWLHD”.
In October, Dr Holland warned the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into rural health that paediatric and maternity services in the Eurobodalla had “reached a crisis point”, with the system relying on overstretched and exhausted doctors, posing a risk to neonatal care.
Dr Holland says, following the review, his position has “become untenable” and his resignation will come into effect from mid-February 2022.
Dr Holland and members of the ONE New Eurobodalla Hospital group are calling for the community to attend a public assembly and march at 10:30 am on Saturday 27 November at the Riverside Park rotunda in Moruya.
Hundreds are expected to walk across the Moruya Bridge demanding the State and Federal Governments commit to a Level Four regional hospital that includes an intensive care unit.
ONE member and hospital advocate Fitzroy Boulting says there has been a “tidal wave of public support and heartfelt valedictories for Dr Holland and his team from the women and mothers of Eurobodalla and beyond”.
He says the support for Dr Holland “illustrates that it is the health bureaucrats who have everything to answer for, not the Moruya maternity and neonatal unit”.
Also pushing for Level Four, Mylene Boulting said that instead of listening to the people on the ground, the health bureaucrats did what bureaucrats do engaging an external expert consultant and releasing a damning report which makes it look as if the medical team were in fact responsible for the situation.
GP obstetrician Dr Lisa Hyde has also resigned from her position and the health service appointed specialist obstetrician Dr Andrew Woods as District Medical Lead for Obstetrics on Monday.
In a statement, the SNSWLHD said the assessment, undertaken by Chief Obstetrician Dr Michael Nicholl and the Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC), was “not targeted at specific individuals but was completed in line with the role of the CEC, which provides health services throughout NSW”.
The multi-disciplinary assessment team examined the safety and quality of the Eurobodalla Maternity Service, and its relationship with other maternity services and considered a range of factors including service capability, safety systems, clinical governance, leadership, culture and models of care.
Following the announcement, retiring Member for Bega Andrew Constance says he is “perplexed about the Clinical Excellence Commission review into the service” and hopes Dr Holland will reconsider his position.
“I would like to know what it (the report) says and understand what’s at issue,” he added.
However, he says expectant mums “must be the top priority”.
Mr Constance says the State Government will soon announce additional funding to “resolve and remove any concern about the delivery of the hospital”.
“Having fought to secure the $200 million in the first place, a site location and trying to work with the concerns of local clinicians about the clinical service plan, I remain passionate about the delivery of this hospital in the same way we have rebuilt and built hospitals across regional NSW,” he said.
“I will be at the rally on the weekend and I am going about my work behind the scenes to address the impasse between Dr Holland and NSW Health.”