AFTER more than two weeks of silence, NSW Health has confirmed this week that two vacant dementia care positions at the Queanbeyan Hospital will soon be filled.
The Queanbeyan Age first reported a break-down of community dementia services on July 27 after local man Frank Presutti went public with the fact that two community dementia nurses had recently ceased their employment at the hospital.
Mr Presutti, 73, cares for his wife Doreen, who was diagnosed with dementia this year. He said the dementia nurses told him they’d been “sacked” and had ceased providing care to Queanbeyan patients at their homes in early July.
However this week a Southern NSW Health spokesperson said the positions would be advertised.
“Two Dementia Behaviour Assessment and Management Service positions within the Queanbeyan Mental Health Service are currently vacant. These vacancies have arisen from staff resignations,” the spokesman said.
“The positions have not been deleted or lost – they are vacant and will be filled when suitable applicants are recruited.
“Vacant positions are routinely reviewed prior to recruitment to ensure that they are configured to best meet clinical demand. Until the positions are filled clinical services will be provided by appropriately skilled and experienced front line mental health clinicians.
“The positions are based at Queanbeyan Community Mental Health Service where safe and clinically-appropriate home visits are attended by all clinicians working in the service. Clients also attend centre-based appointments and clinicians visit residential aged-care facilities as required.”
Local State MP John Barilaro previously blasted NSW Health for its prolonged delay in explaining where the positions had gone, telling The Canberra Chronicle he had “lost confidence that NSW Health had a way forward in this case.”
However this week he said he accepted the positions would be filled in Queanbeyan, although he said he made no apology for pursuing NSW Health on the issue.
“Following the recent resignation of two staff from the service I have been advised that a person with the required clinical skills will be relocating from Eurobodalla to take up one of the positions in Queanbeyan. The other position will be advertised shortly,” Mr Barilaro said.
“I have been given an assurance that there are no plans to reduce dementia care staff positions from Queanbeyan and that the Community Mental Health team has continued to provide appropriate support for dementia patients during this transition period.
“As local member I make no apology for standing up for Queanbeyan to ensure that the dementia care services the community has come to expect in this region will continue to be catered for,” he said.