A COMMUNITY action group has labelled the state of Bathurst's health services "disgusting" after detailing more stories from the hospital.
Councillor Warren Aubin spoke on behalf of the Bathurst Health Services Action Group at Wednesday's Bathurst Regional Council meeting, providing an update on its campaign for change.
It came after council's own discussions with the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) recently and the action group's meeting with the Bathurst private hospital on Tuesday.
In his first point, Cr Aubin said that staffing levels at Bathurst's public hospital were of great concern.
"We are far from having enough nurses in that place to satisfy the needs and keep beds open," he said.
Speaking to the Western Advocate, Cr Aubin said he knew of a nurse that was asked to pick up more shifts on top of their already busy workload.
"I was speaking to a nurse from the hospital who had worked eight or nine days straight and she was on three days off and, when I was talking to her on the phone, she had got a text message asking her to do an afternoon shift," he said. "Then she got another message a few minutes later asking her to do a double shift, on her first day off after working eight days."
General manager Cathy Marshall later told the Western Advocate that the health service "is staffed for nursing levels in accordance with the Public Health System Nurses' and Midwives' (State) Award".
"Daily meetings are also held to ensure nursing levels are appropriate, safe and meet patient demand," she said.
At Wednesday's meeting, Cr Aubin also expressed concern about how the Bathurst hospital was being utilised.
After receiving information from a doctor, he claimed that patients were transported from Orange Base Hospital to Bathurst Health Service's emergency department over the weekend as there were no beds.
"The whole thing is just so ludicrous and these people that are running the joint, the bureaucrats, just finetune and polish everything up so it sounds like they are running like an oily cloth," Cr Aubin said. "Well, it ain't. It's disgusting what is happening up there."
Ms Marshall denied the claim, saying "Orange Health Service did not transfer any Orange patients to the Bathurst Health Service" over the weekend of August 31 to September 1.
She said that, although normally avoided, occasionally patients will be transferred to other hospitals.
"All hospitals in the district provide support for each other when there are times of heavy activity," she said.
"In some cases, this will mean that a patient will be transferred to a neighbouring facility where they can be cared for appropriately in order for another patient to be provided with the care they need at the transferring hospital."
The next step for the action group is to lobby for government funding to improve Bathurst health services, the priorities being ear, nose and throat specialists, gynaecology services and a urologist.
"We need a urologist because there is not a prostate operation performed in the Bathurst hospital, not one," he said.
"Look at us in here ... a lot of males will have that surgery done in their lifetime and we can't even have it done here. We need that urology service here."
The list of services needed was developed by the action group in collaboration with Bathurst medical professionals, who were able to identify the shortfalls of health services in the city.
An open letter to member for Bathurst Paul Toole in July had named 13 areas in need of serious improvement.
Ms Marshall confirmed that the majority of prostate surgery required by patients from Bathurst is undertaken at Orange Hospital.
"This networked service ensures the best possible care is provided to patients by consolidating high level expertise and experience," she said.
"Orange Central West Cancer Centre also provides specialised prostate services for the region.
"This includes access to transperineal prostate biopsy; specialist resident urologists; and the Centre's multidisciplinary team who are able to coordinate a patient's care."
The WNSWLHD is in the process of a review of health services under its Bathurst Clinical Service Plan.
Consultations with staff and the local community has been completed and the drafting of the plan continues.