A proposed change in how Griffith Base Hospital's allergy clinic is operated has seen the doctor who has run the clinic for 20 years up in arms at the proposed realignment.
Doctor Maxwell Hopp, who has worked at the hospital for 20 years as a paediatrician and has operated the area's only private allergy clinic at the hospital alongside a publicly-funded community nurse, is against a proposed move as a result of the redevelopment of the hospital.
However, the Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) has defended the proposed move, stating the move is to make way for a publicly accessible clinic which will supported by the nurse.
The clinic is operated out of private rooms in the children's ward by Dr Hopp, who said the allocation of private rooms in the hospital was a condition of his employment as the hospital's paediatrician.
"It's actually unique in a base hospital and unique in our base hospital," Dr Hopp said.
"We are unique because we don't have junior staff for paediatricians which means we have to be on site."
However, Dr Hopp said he disagrees with a decision made by management to move his clinic either off grounds or to Saint Vincent's Private Hospital as well as stop the funding of a community health nurse who works at the clinic.
Dr Hopp said it would be difficult to run the clinic outside of the hospital due to potential life threatening consequences of practice and a close location to the hospital's main services are required for the clinic to operate correctly.
He said when he questioned the decision, he was informed the clinic no longer meet guidelines which were set ahead of the redevelopment of the hospital.
"They say now they want to change the whole thing, it was fine for them for 20 years," Dr Hopp said.
"For me to change the whole structure that has worked beautifully for 20 years, that is just a very poor alternative offer."
Griffith Base Hospital's general manager Greg Brylski said the decision was made to re-position the community nurse in order to accommodate a public allergy clinic in the redevelopment of the hospital.
"The MLHD has funded the employment of a community nurse position to assist the Griffith community for many years and that position will continue to be funded without change," Mr Brylski said.
"Any suggestion the funding has been withdrawn is incorrect."
Mr Brylski said the hospital had met with Dr Hopp to explore ways to improve access to services for public patients and further conversations are planned in the coming days.
"Plans are actually underway to expand access to the services available to our local community via the establishment of a new public allergy clinic at Griffith Base Hospital," Mr Brylski said.
"The proposed new clinic would be supported by the publicly funded community nurse position in a local public hospital setting, rather than at a private clinic."
However, Dr Hopp said any new clinic implemented in the hospital will not have the same level of expertise on offer and even if he was offered to take charge of the clinic, patient records and information could prove difficult to transition to the new situation.
"Where are they going to get anyone to run an allergy clinic?" Dr Hopp said.
"I run the clinic from here, I've got 3000 patients' notes and files, I would then have to start from scratch, it's just not feasible."
Dr Hopp said he turned to the Member for Murray Helen Dalton for help after receiving less than adequate responses from MLHD and state health minister Brad Hazzard, sending a letter to Mrs Dalton which was posted to social media on Thursday.
When contacted by The Area News for comment on Friday, Mrs Dalton said she had held "encouraging" conversations with MLHD about ensuring Dr Hopp maintains his clinic in the hospital but said a public clinic could also provide a way forward.
"I think if that [a public clinic] is the way forward, that's the way forward," Mrs Dalton said.
"I think it's [the conversations held with MLHD are] a very encouraging sign... [but] I won't be celebrating until all the details are confirmed."
Mrs Dalton further clarified her position to The Area News on Sunday, stating there was no need for MLHD to fix something which isn't broken and was working hard to ensure Dr Hopp could maintain his clinic within the hospital as a public clinic could lead to longer wait times and poorer health outcomes.
"We all know when NSW Health get involved with things it doesn't end well," she said.
"It's working now and it's providing people with all those services.
"MLHD are messing around with a fantastic service and we actually want that retained.
"If it's not broken, don't fix it."
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