WHY would a locum, who was engaged by an orthopaedic surgeon going on leave, be told their services are no longer required?
That is the question Warren Aubin wants answered.
The spokesman for the Bathurst Health Services Action Group was informed of the situation when he was making arrangements for his own orthopaedic surgery.
Mr Aubin said he was told that orthopaedic surgeon Dr Lachlan Host had arranged for a locum orthopaedic surgeon to cover his Bathurst and Lithgow public and private lists for four months while he is on leave.
However, a little over a month after that arrangement started, the locum is no longer doing those surgeries.
"The locum is doing the lists on public and private in Bathurst, and also the private in Lithgow. He did his first list in the Bathurst hospital in January, and then he got told he was not required," Mr Aubin said.
"They're not accepting any Bathurst patients that go and put their forms in at the hospital; they're getting told they can't put their forms in to get on Dr Host's list.
"An orthopaedic surgeon from Orange put up his hand and said 'I'll do all the work', only to find he can't do any of the work that was booked in for March.
"So, the question is, who is going to look after the people of Bathurst's orthopaedic needs in March? Why was the locum told he's not needed, when clearly he is?"
IN OTHER NEWS AROUND BATHURST:
The Western Advocate asked the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) about the situation described by Mr Aubin, including to clarify anything that was inaccurate in his account.
In a response from the health district, a spokesperson did not deny that a locum had been engaged and was no longer covering Dr Host's lists.
However, they did say that patients were still having their surgeries and indicated there were enough orthopaedic surgeons to cater to demand.
"No patients are going without orthopaedic surgery at Bathurst Hospital," the spokesperson said.
"Bathurst Hospital has three orthopaedic surgeons available and one surgeon on extended leave.
"There are also three surgeons who are based at Orange Base Hospital, who provide additional support for orthopaedic trauma."
Mr Aubin also raised concerns about aftercare, wondering if Bathurst patients were expected to travel to Orange to receive this essential part of their treatment.
The health district spokesperson said: "All patients on the public list at the Bathurst Hospital are seen before and after surgery by the surgeons at Bathurst."
Mr Aubin said he feared the Bathurst community has been "let down again" by the health service, and the situation, as had been described to him, wasn't acceptable.
Based on his own experiences and discussions with other members of the action group, he believes Bathurst is in dire need of more orthopaedic services.
He renewed his calls for a 24-seven emergency service in Bathurst.
"It's the people of Bathurst that want it. They don't want to be travelling to Orange all the time for a dislocated finger or toe, they want to be served here in their local community where they feel safe and they don't have to travel, and they don't have to have aftercare in Orange," Mr Aubin said.
"We can't have a mirror service, like the same service in Bathurst and Orange - it would be way overdone - but orthopaedics has a very, very high-volume patient rate and one that needs to be catered for in Bathurst, not Orange."
The Western Advocate asked the WNSWLHD if it has any intention of hiring another orthopaedic surgeon for the Bathurst area.
The response indicated the answer was no.