This week saw the commitment by the Labor party to fund the infrastructure and equipment for a radiotherapy facility within the new Eurobodalla Hospital. The timing is relevant as the hospital is presently being designed. The commitment comes because of the failure of the current government to live up to a commitment to deliver the same facility made during the last election. Pretty simple. They promised, and they didn't deliver. They delivered to 13 other regional areas but the South Coast missed out. Oddly the South Coast was the only region to miss out and the only region that was held by Labor. So the commitment was made this week to deliver, on the proviso that the Labor folk are elected. Most embarrassingly though Greg Hunt has made a statement that shows he has no connect with what is happening on the ground. One New Eurobodalla Hospital has posted the following screen images of Minister Hunt's quotes to their social media page:
The fact is that the facility is NOT in train... It is not underway and in fact his statement might be construed as misleading and deceptive. The Minister for Health along with Brad Hazzard might like to come to Eurobodalla and explain in person where the funding is, where the project they claim to "be underway" is up to and why the community have neither been updated.
Above: In Sept 2019 Mr Hazzard advises Andrew Constance that there are other options such as Canberra or Shoalhaven and if they qualify he might give them a travel voucher. That is a long way from a Federal promise of provision of service IN THE EUROBODALLA. Of particular concern is the news that the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into rural health heard the NSW Government defend their decision not to submit an application for cancer treatment funding in Bega and the Eurobodalla.
Under questioning from Labor MLCs Walt Secord and Greg Donnelly, NSW Health told the inquiry that no funding application was made for a regional treatment centre in the Eurobodalla, stating that “it's hard to justify that investment for 1-2 patients a day".
Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park MP said “A radiation therapy service was promised to the people of the Eurobodalla to reduce the need for travel to the ACT. "In 2019, the federal Liberal government announced the Bega/Eurobodalla as a targeted region to fund regional radiation treatment centres to a total of $45.5 million in competitive grants, which closed in October 2020.
Currently, there is no radiotherapy service on the 350km of the NSW coast south of Nowra and patients are having to drive up to three-and-a-half hours to the nearest radiation oncology services in the ACT or Nowra.
“2,000 people suffer from cancer in this region every year - It is staggering that they would willingly force patients to travel 3.5 hours one way for life saving treatment, when they could have delivered those services locally.” “The government had a chance to bring radiation oncology services to the Eurobodalla and save people travelling over 3 hours for treatment. They chose not to. And today we heard them defend that decision and say “it’s hard to justify that investment for 1-2 patients a day.”
“The need is there – 700 patients a year could have used the services. Yet it turns out an application wasn’t even made.”
“How can Bega and the Eurobodalla get better health care services if the government isn’t even applying for funding?” It might appear from Minister Hunt's comments that Minister Hazzard hasn't been keeping his associate up to date, thereby allowing a Federal Minister to embarrass himself on National TV. It might also mean that NSW are not communicating with the Minister given the fact that there is a formal petition underway. Either the Ministers are lazy, indifferent, inept, or uninformed to not acknowledge the failures of their broken promises and failed action but what is clear is that the South East community is very much aware of the failures of both Ministers in delivering an "election promise". PETITION FOR
PROVISION OF LOCALLY AVAILABLE RADIATION ONCOLOGY SERVICES
TO: The Honourable Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales (‘LA NSW’),
THE PETITION of the residents of the NSW Electoral District of Bega and other concerned residents and parties of New South Wales and neighbouring territories.
WHEREAS further to presentation of two Parliamentary Petitions, of 15th November 2018 and 12th October 2021, each carrying over 3,000+ signatures, received by the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of NSW, materially detailing longstanding prejudicial constraints and grievous disadvantages of an unremedied nature in the provision of healthcare services to the people of the Eurobodalla Shire and region:
AND FURTHER NOTING the significant representation of a senior citizens demographic within the Shire, nationally surpassed only by the Gold Coast (Qld), there being no radiotherapy services available within a highly uncomfortable 3 hours journey or more,
WE, the undersigned, seek the intercession of the Honourable House in pleading our cause, as local accessibility to proper and vitally needed Radiation Oncology services, publicly promised in December 2019 to the “South Coast ( Eurobodalla)” by the Federal Minister, has been thwarted by SNSWLHD’s recently revealed failure to even apply for available funds on the specious reasoning that the level of population of the region rendered such services not “viable”. This is in contradiction with numerous examples, nationally and within NSW, of Health Districts with lesser or parity population counts where full local access to and provision of such treatments, has been facilitated and supported under the above-mentioned federal programme.
Given the aforegoing, the undersigned petitioners therefore respectfully request the Honourable House to urgently direct the Minister for Health to:
· require the NSW Health Department to re-evaluate and reconsider its decision to deny the residents of the Electoral District of Bega appropriate local access to a radiation oncology centre,
· reappraise interest previously rejected by it of credentialled treatment suppliers, who, in recognition of that identifiable need, were willing to co-locate to the new Eurobodalla Regional Hospital site and to provide bulk-billing services,
· review and justify why no substantive and material provision has been made within layout and construction planning of the new Eurobodalla Regional Hospital for the presence of such facilities as a fiscally responsible option to the much more costly consequences of ‘retro-fitting’ such services for a patient population already generating unacceptable levels of radiation oncology referrals out of the region.
Principal Petitioners – Fitzroy Boulting FRAS and Mylène Boulting of PO Box 3138 Tuross Head NSW 2537 on behalf of the People of the Eurobodalla and of the NSW Electoral District of Bega, of “ONE” New L4 Eurobodalla Hospital Advocates Group, and of other concerned parties, associations and communities.