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Monday, 8th March, 2010

The health service has been hit by another staff shortfall at the hospital. The Greater Western Area Health Service has confirmed the hospital's physiotherapy department is understaffed due to "resignations and staff leave". A spokesman said that a "review of recruitment to the existing vacancies" was now underway, but insisted patients were still receiving treatment. "Physiotherapy services at the Broken Hill Health Service are being maintained," he said.

But a local GP told the BDT that patients referred from her surgery were waiting for up to six months to see a physiotherapist at the hospital. Broken Hill has been without a private physiotherapy service since the middle of last year. The health service said it had to put the needs of patients requiring acute care ahead of non-acute patients, including those referred from general practice surgeries. "There (has been) no private physiotherapy services in Broken Hill and the focus for the Physiotherapy Department at the health service is for acute inpatients," the spokesman said.

"However, non-acute patients of the health service are prioritised on a needs basis and every effort is made to treat these patients in a timely manner." The health service said the Physiotherapy Department used a primary health model of care that encouraged self-management for clients who presented with chronic conditions. It was also supported by a number of new graduate physiotherapists from St George Hospital in Sydney on a rotation basis.

Dr Funmi Komolafe from Outback Women's Health said her surgery recently introduced its own physiotherapy service to "compensate for the lack of service at the hospital". She said one visiting physiotherapist was already working out of the surgery on a periodic basis and a second therapist was starting in mid-March. A visiting exercise physiologist from Adelaide was also part of the new service which Dr Komolafe said accepted referrals from other GPs."So hopefully this will help the whole community."

Greater Western Area Health Advisory Council chairman and local clinician Dr Steve Flecknoe-Brown said the service offered by Outback Women's Health would help alleviate some of the problem. He said that the hospital required at least one new physiotherapist."It will take the pressure off the hospital because there's so much unmet demand," he said. "It still doesn't help the needs of people who have had broken bones or need physiotherapy for strokes and the like."

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