DAFFODIL Cottage has lost its permanent senior oncology pharmacist, prompting fears in the community that services at the centre could be permanently downgraded.
Bathurst Health Service's general manager Cathy Marshall confirmed on Monday that the service is actively recruiting for the position and, in the interim, new patients receiving therapy for the first time are being treated in Orange.
Community activist Kent McNab said he was contacted over the weekend about the situation and he has real fears that it might go from temporary to permanent.
"We have heard that Daffodil Cottage is again facing a threat from the Health Service to reduce services and diminish its importance in providing assistance to local cancer patients," he said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Mr McNab said the fact there is no senior oncology pharmacist means any new or complex chemotherapy treatment cannot be administered at Daffodil Cottage.
"We have learned that cancer patients have been advised that they would need to travel to Orange to receive their treatment. While this is currently a temporary arrangement, the concern is that it is the thin end of the wedge to transfer chemotherapy treatment to Orange on a more permanent basis," he said.
He said the time had come, once again, for Bathurst people to stand up and say "we won't let this happen".
He said it was his understanding the Health Service had been given until Wednesday to appoint a replacement oncology pharmacist so treatment can resume at Daffodil Cottage.
"If this does not happen then it will be again necessary for Bathurst people to rally in support of Daffodil Cottage," he said.
"Get your yellow T-shirts, hats, ties and scarves ready to show our support for the cancer patients and staff."
Bathurst Health Service general manager Ms Marshall stressed on Monday the current situation was temporary and said Bathurst Health Service "is actively recruiting for the position".
She said "to ensure patient safety, those receiving chemotherapy treatment for the first time receive it in Orange where there is a specialist on hand to manage any adverse reactions".
"A relieving pharmacist is working at Daffodil Cottage for other patients who have already begun their treatment," she said, adding measures are in place to support both the local pharmacists providing backup and the patients.
"We appreciate the co-operation of patients during this time. We are working to have all treatment back at Daffodil Cottage as soon as possible," she said.