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Bodalla Health Forum Thurs Feb 21st

Editor, The Beagle

There will be a Health Forum at Gallery Bodalla this coming Thursday night 21st February at 6pm, for interested members of the community. Dr Michael Holland will talk on the “One“Hospital initiative for the Eurobodalla and other guest speakers will discuss health service and nursing shortfalls in the electorate. Federal and State Greens candidates will discuss health policy and will be available for consultation on these matters.

I am a little concerned that things appear to have gone quiet on the new hospital and health services funding shortfall fronts.

As the NSW Greens candidate for the State seat of Bega I have no hesitation in declaring party support in principle and actuality for a new Eurobodalla Regional Hospital in the near future. But before this, however, the here and now demands immediate funding for the recruitment of specialist surgical, emergency and intensive care, anaesthetist, perinatal, paediatric, psychiatric, drug and alcohol, geriatric and orthopaedic staff. These services should all be provided to at least the standard in other Local Health Districts in NSW. The same goes for nursing patient ratios which are way worse in rural and regional areas than in the cities. The current deficiencies in what should be comprehensive health services coverage in the Bega electorate, and especially in the Eurobodalla, fly in the face of social justice and economic fairness, principles central to the Greens’ approach to politics.

Certainly the exodus of patients to hospitals and specialists outside the region should be enough in itself for our elected representative, Health Minister and Local Health District executive staff to realise that the citizens of the Eurobodalla are not being afforded health care to a standard suitable for the 21st century in an affluent country like ours. This is not to denigrate front line medical, admin and ancillary staff in any way. My own family and I have received fabulous care when required, as long as we had the right sickness or problem, that is, one that had the appropriate services available here! Other specialties have required the 'long trip up the hill' to Canberra or elsewhere on non-existent public transport or are reliant on locum services. Now locums bring their own value to the health system but they cannot provide continuity of care. My own twin daughters’ care in utero and birth was handled very well but by three different FIFO locums. They were all fantastic, and we remain very grateful, but there was no chance of a close patient/doctor relationship.

The absence of inpatient mental health facilities for either adults or adolescents in our region is a scandal in and of itself. I have taught students for whom this deficiency has been of considerable significance and personally see this as an issue of the highest priority. I understand the new headspace facility in Bega is already overwhelmed. There is NO equivalent facility in Eurobodalla Shire at all and the needs of many mental health patients are entirely unmet. Both service provision and ongoing adequate staffing and funding are essential and they are needed yesterday.

The Cancer Council and advocacy group CanAct last Friday launched their Saving Life 2019: NSW Election Priorities and as well as initiatives around tobacco and obesity, all supported by Green’ policy, was the issue of the lack of care for cancer recovery patients suffering from the debilitating but largely unknown and undiagnosed condition of lymphodaema. This too can be added to the shortfall of services requiring immediate funding for training of staff and delivery of services.

The current State government has presided over the inequity of health services here for the last 8 years. Our sitting member is a high profile Minister in that government. It can find the millions of dollars to knock down perfectly good stadiums to replace them with slightly better ones. Yet there isn’t the money in the pot to ensure that people here on the South Coast can get the specialist care they need. Is that good enough?

Will Douglas

#Community #Opinion

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