Nurse’s exit leaves gap in patient care

Geoff VivianMidwest Times
Leeman. File picture: The West Australian.
Camera IconLeeman. File picture: The West Australian. Credit: WA News

Leeman and Green Head residents no longer have a nurse practitioner to prescribe medicines.

Health Minister Roger Cook said his department had contracted Silver Chain to provide a registered nurse at Leeman’s remote area nursing post.

A more highly qualified nurse practitioner applied for the job in 2016 and filled the position until she resigned earlier this month.

“With the recent resignation of the nurse practitioner, Silver Chain has reverted to the requirements of its contract and advertised for a registered nurse,” Mr Cook said.

Member for Moore Shane Love asked for the position to be upgraded to nurse practitioner at question time in Parliament earlier this month.

“Leeman and Green Head communities have an ageing population and a high incidence of chronic disease,” Mr Love said. “In the absence of a visiting doctor, the community has become reliant on the service offered by a nurse practitioner.”

Mr Love said more than 110 “anxious residents” had expressed their concern about the downgrade in health services at a public meeting.

“Located 50km from Jurien Bay and 90km from Dongara, Leeman is isolated from other medical services,” he said. “Some residents cannot readily travel to access medical services in these surrounding towns and the Dongara medical practice is not taking on new patients.

“There is no regular public transport that allows patients to travel to other towns for medical services.”

Mr Love said a large number of pensioners lived in Leeman houses vacated when the Eneabba sand mine closed earlier this decade.

“The nurse practitioner in Leeman has previously written out prescriptions, and with a pharmacy service in Leeman and Green Head, patients’ basic needs were, in the past, met within their community,” he said.

Mr Cook said “a number of matters” Mr Love raised were being investigated and the department would provide advice “in due course”.

“It is important that there is continuity of care and service provision to residents of Leeman,” he said.

“The same access to on-call nursing care will be provided.”

He said the nursing post was open 9am-4.30pm from Monday-Thursday and on alternate Fridays.

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