Forbes ‘forced out’

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Forbes ‘forced out’

Long serving orthopaedic surgeon Henry Forbes no longer has a contract to treat public patients in Mount Gambier with his last day in the operating theatre taking place on Wednesday.

However, the Limestone Coast Local Health Network has arranged for locum cover after the contract with Mr Forbes expired on Sunday.

Mr Forbes has practised in Mount Gambier for around 30 years along with fellow orthopaedic surgeon Barney McCusker.

The third orthopaedic surgeon who has been treating public patients in the Blue Lake City is English-born Kit Brogan who arrived in 2021.

The SE Voice was made aware of the contract situation by a patient of Mr Forbes and so the LCLHN was approached for a response.

The SA Health media unit issued the following statement 72 hours later on behalf of Dr Sue Abhary who is the LCLHN Acting Executive Director of Medical Services.

“We congratulate and thank Mr Henry Forbes on 30 years of service to the Limestone Coast community,” Dr Abhary said.

“He’s been an appreciated surgeon and his work has helped hundreds of people to live active lives.

“We have appointed a new orthopaedic surgeon who will commence shortly, with interim locum cover organised.

“All public orthopaedic patients will continue to have ongoing care at LCLHN.”

The SE Voice asked the SA Health media unit for the names of the incoming and locum surgeons but a spokesperson said this information was not available.

This newspaper made Mr Forbes aware of Dr Abhary’s remarks and he provided a statement.

“I am pleased to see some acknowledgement, by the administration of the Mount Gambier Hospital, of my long commitment to orthopaedic surgical services in the South East,” Mr Forbes said.

“However, I must point out this is quite disingenuous and rather too late.

“It has not been my choice to retire at this time.

“I have effectively been sacked by the decision of the administration not to renew my contract.

“I was quite willing to negotiate a different contract or to continue in a salaried capacity to allow for a satisfactory succession and seamless transition, with maintenance of a satisfactory service, to occur.

“This was rejected out of hand.

“I can only assume the reasons for this are political and personal.”

Mr Forbes has challenged the assertion that all the orthopaedic needs of the community will be met.

“Firstly, it should be noted that Mr McCusker and I provided this service for the best part of 30 years on a one in two roster, without interruption and without any resident staff,” he said.

“This is no longer an acceptable or tenable situation as no surgeon is prepared to accept this anymore, and is contrary to present industrial agreements for salaried doctors.

“Whilst I am delighted by the appointment by Ms Afsana Hasan as a new salaried staff specialist, I would point out that she and Mr Brogan will only work a one in four roster, and she wishes to be an exclusively upper limb sub specialist surgeon.

“Therefore, a minimum number of surgeons to run a continuous service is four.

“It is the policy of the Australian Orthopaedic Association and that of all the other equivalent bodies of the English-speaking world the minimum number required to run an effective service is in fact five.

“Secondly there is at present a critical shortage of anaesthetists at Mount Gambier Hospital which has resulted in a situation where many acute trauma patients requiring surgery, which under previous circumstances would have been done in Mount Gambier, are having to be transferred to Adelaide.

“Needless to say, this results in considerable inconvenience and disruption for patients and their families and great expense for the health system.

“This has also resulted in cancellation of a significant number of elective cases.

“This situation would appear to be a long term one without a solution in the foreseeable future.”

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