I am a dentist working in Inverloch.
For the past eight years I have been providing a general anaesthetic service for my patients at Bass Coast Health.
The largest group of my patients that have benefited from this service have been young children suffering from tooth decay.
Early childhood tooth decay can cause pain and infection in young children.
This in turn causes problems with eating, sleeping and a general failure to thrive.
In some cases treatment includes several extractions and young children are usually too uncooperative to cope with this whilst awake in the dental chair.
A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from Bass Coast Health informing me that surgery would not be performed on children under 12 anymore.
This means that my young patients will now have to travel to Melbourne (often three times) if treatment under general anaesthesia is required.
The statement by Ms Child in last week’s Sentinel Times that “you aren’t supposed to do that (surgery for patient’s under 12) unless you have a consulting anaesthetist” is simply wrong and not backed up by any scientific study or evidence.
The GP anaesthetists I have been working with for the past eight years are all extremely competent, experienced and well trained.
They have all invested a lot of time and training into ensuring they are competent with Paediatric anaesthesia.
It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with every one of them, and not one time in the past eight years have I felt anything but extremely comfortable that my patients are being well looked after whilst under anaesthetic.
If the hospital really had a child’s safety at heart would they not be concerned about the increased risk of road traffic trauma as a result of the need to travel for treatment?
Has anybody thought what it would be like for a child to have a long car journey after surgery?
The children of our community have lost great services in a range of medical specialities.
On a personal level myself and my medical colleagues have lost an interesting and satisfying part of our work.
The infant deaths at Djerriwarrh Health are of course terrible and tragic.
However they have nothing to do with the way children’s surgery is handled at Bass Coast Health.
I urge the hospital administration to consider measured and appropriate responses to this, rather than knee jerk decisions which in the broad scheme of things will potentially put children more at risk.
Dr Tonya Kirk, Wonthaggi.