South East Regional Hospital surgeon plans to stop elective surgery

Krishnankutty Rajesh
Krishnankutty Rajesh

Another orthopaedic surgeon at Bega’s hospital will protest a decision by the facility’s management by stopping elective surgery. 

On Thursday, Krishnankutty Rajesh gave notice to say in six weeks he will no longer perform elective surgery, although he will  continue any on-call or emergency surgery. 

“It was not a decision made lightly I can tell you, as it directly impacts on people on the waiting list,” he said. 

He made the decision to put pressure on South East Regional Hospital’s management to give his colleague Chris Phoon “a fair deal”.

Last month Dr Phoon was given a week’s notice his contract would not be renewed. After the storm of community outrage that followed, the hospital’s management began steps to offer him a temporary contract while NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said a review will be looking deep into the hospital’s overall functioning.

Dr Rajesh was aware stopping elective surgery would have a huge impact on waiting lists for the region; in February he spent 15 working days in theatre performing such surgeries at the South East’s hospitals. 

But he said taking the action was important for the future functioning of the facility. 

“I think we have to make a stand to get back to what we were doing before,” he said. 

“If I have to I will stop until a solution is reached.” 

He said hopefully that will not come to pass and he will call off his decision to stop elective surgery if a fair deal is made. 

Dr Rajesh’s notice follows fellow surgeon Matthew Nott, who cancelled his operating list for March saying he would reconsider returning to work if Dr Phoon is reinstated and offered an official apology by the hospital.

A Southern NSW Local Health District spokesperson said following recent events and to supplement the orthopaedic service, SERH has implemented a visiting orthopaedic surgical service. 

“This consists of three orthopaedic surgeons who are extremely well qualified and highly regarded in their field by all medical peers,” the spokesperson said. 

During the past two weeks the surgeons performed 17 surgical procedures, with lists planned into the future.

“While we are unable to reveal [visiting medical officers] salaries, using locums to perform services in general is as cost effective to the health service as it is to pay VMOs on a fee for service basis,” the spokesperson said.