A FORMER director of Griffith Base Hospital ED believes sweeping changes must be made to prevent a tragedy occurring.
Dr Elizabeth Dodd, who was the director from 1990 to 1995, has spoken out after learning that Coleambally baby Braxton Leach was misdiagnosed there last Thursday.
Braxton's mother Simone Monck was forced to wait in ED with her seriously ill two-month-old for five hours before doctors declared: "He's OK, take him home."
Twelve hours later, Braxton had turned blue and became unconscious before Coleambally ambulance officers revived him. He was rushed back to Griffith Base and finally diagnosed with severe bronchiolitis and flown to Canberra Hospital.
"It's a lottery as to whether you get good or bad treatment because there are such a variety of staff with varying levels of ability," Dr Dodd said.
"One of the real problems is that staff get paid by the hour, unlike us GPs who get paid by the patient. Doctors will see a patient and then order blood tests and then do something else but they don't consider seeing another patient while they're waiting.
"There is also a real culture problem and morale problem at the hospital. And then there's the incredible bed block."
Dr Dodd said the lack of bed numbers and local knowledge was a concern.
"There used to be 100-plus beds but they've closed a lot of them and now there are 80," Dr Dodd said.
"That means when you get something like a winter flu crisis, there are enormous numbers of people you just can't process and get through to the wards because the beds aren't there.
"Some of the doctors have no local knowledge either. It wouldn't have surprised me if the doctor that saw Braxton thought Coleambally was a street in Griffith, rather than a town more than an hour away."
Ms Monck spoke to The Area News yesterday morning from Canberra, where her tiny son remains in a stable condition.
She said she had been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community.
Since posting about her plight on The Area News Facebook page, more than 100 people have commented, some offering words of comfort, others sharing their own experiences.
"Braxton's condition is a bit up and down at the moment. He was OK and then he had to be put back on oxygen," she said.
"It is good to know that so many people care.
"When I spoke up I thought I was the only one. It's not good for Griffith that so many people have had problems."
Murrumbidgee Local Health District has apologised to the family and a full investigation of the incident is being conducted.