Local doctors forced to make heartbreaking choices
AS BORDER restrictions have been enforced, for some doctors working in our area it has been a difficult choice between their own lives and their critical work.
Faced with long quarantine periods and uncertainty of travel arrangements, many Queensland based doctors have been forced to leave their posts and return home.
The Maclean-based Dr Oncall Medical Locum Agency provide locum doctors Australia wide to public and private hospitals, with many being used in the Tweed to Grafton area.
General manager Nicole Sierakowski said they had quite a few people affected by the recent border changes as doctors were not considered exempt to the border rules.
"We had a doctor that was meant to do a 3pm shift on Friday at Ballina before the border closure," he said.
"He'd worked a couple of shifts before that, and we said to him that we didn't know how long those border line-ups will be.
"If he worked from 3-11 and there's a traffic build up, and if you don't make it to the border by 1am they send you back and then you'll have to fly in."
Ms Sierakowski said it was a real conflict for the doctors, with many supporting quarantine restrictions and also not wanting to leave the hospitals and patients in the lurch.
"We're all one country," she said. "There has to be an answer where we're not leaving our rural places without doctors because we've had to ship them back to Queensland.
"We're in a health pandemic and we're putting more pressure on our hospitals with this sort of stuff."
Ms Sierakowski said that for many hospitals across the country, it was a blow as many international doctors working had left Australia to return to their home as the pandemic cut borders and travel.
Negotiations were continuing with health authorities about allowing exemptions for doctors, with Ms Sierakowski noting that changes had been made to allow people with specialist medical appointments to cross the border.
She said as an initial response their agency had cancelled to four weeks worth of work, and was looking for government to assist in the response.
"I'm hoping that a solution is going to come for these health care workers," she said.
"We hope the government looks for a solution, as we can't leave these places in the lurch."