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Community gains solid support for One New Regional Hospital petitions

Those attending a hand over of petitions in Moruya today saw solid support of the efforts of the representatives of the One New Eurobodalla Hospital Action Group and wider community calling for a level 4 hospital in the region. NSW Shadow Minister for Health and Shadow Minister for the Illawarra and South Coast, Ryan Park MP visited Moruya where he met with members of the One New Eurobodalla Hospital Action Group and received the petition.

Above: Fitzroy and Mylène Boulting, One New Eurobodalla Hospital Action Group

advocates, present the petition to NSW Shadow Minister for Health, Ryan Park. The NSW Labor State opposition has slammed the Liberal-National State Government for failing to address a serious gap in health services in the Eurobodalla on the South Coast of NSW. “Thousands of people in the seat of Bega have signed this new petition calling on the Government to provide better health services in the Eurobodalla. They are simply asking for what they were promised, an upgraded new Eurobodalla hospital,” he said. Mr Park was joined by Federal Member for Gilmore Fiona Phillips and Federal Member for Eden Monaro Kristy McBain to highlight the inequity in planning for health services in the region.

Above: Standing solidly behind the delivery of a Level 4 hospital, as promised are Federal and State representatives seeking to ensure that what was promised will actually be delivered. The Eurobodalla Shire has the second largest population for the area covered by the Southern NSW Local Health District, one of the largest seniors populations and a significant First Nations population. The maternity service has the largest number of presentations of births for a rural maternity service in Southern NSW.

Despite this, the new hospital will open with a reduction in maternity, neonatal and paediatric beds, and no intensive care unit.

It will open with no inpatient mental health services, which means no mental health beds close to home for residents of the Eurobodalla.

“We know that many patients in the Eurobodalla are forced to travel outside the region for vital health services and mental health services. They deserve to have access to the same services as people in other major centres.” Mr Park said. "The vulnerability of the Eurobodalla’s population was laid bare when the 2019 summer bushfires closed parts of the Princes Highway and access to Moruya District Hospital was cut off. "The Liberal member for Bega, Andrew Constance, promised to build an upgraded level 4 district hospital in the Eurobodalla in 2018, but three years later all the region has is a Clinical Services Plan described as unsafe and unsustainable by senior clinicians.

“The Member for Bega is clearly focussed on his own career aspirations. He has failed to listen to the community he claims to care about and has sentenced them to an under resourced and unsafe health care system in the Eurobodalla.” Mr Park said

This is the second petition presented to the Government calling for better health services in the Eurobodalla, the first was presented to the Member for Bega in 2018.

Claims made about the critical state of health services in the Eurobodalla were highlighted in a recent hearing of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into rural health.

Testimony by a highly respected senior clinician pointed to a dangerous shortage of paediatric and maternity services and a system relying on overstretched and exhausted doctors.

“The NSW Government points to hospital upgrades but bricks and mortar don’t save lives - doctors, nurses and paramedics do. The Liberals and Nationals have reduced rural and regional healthcare capacity and has no plan to turn it around,” Mr Park said.

Kristy McBain said "People in regional areas deserve better access to health care. This means having adequate services in our region, so people don’t have to travel for hours when they’re most in need.

"Today it was a pleasure to travel to Moruya to meet with members of the One New Eurobodalla Hospital Action Group to show my support for a level 4 hospital in the region.

More than 3400 people in the Eurobodalla area signed a petition calling for better health services and the hospital they were promised.

"Thanks to Fiona Phillips MP and NSW Shadow Minister for health Ryan Park for Keira for advocating for this service and inviting me to add my support and voice.

"Too many people in our region know the pain and frustration of having to travel hours from home for cancer treatment or to receive care in an ICU. The region was promised a hospital so people could access these services locally and I want to see this promise fulfilled.

"Thank you also to the One New Eurobodalla Hospital Action Group for all their dedication and commitment on the ground."

Above: L to R: Federal Members Kristy McBain and Fiona Phillips. The Federal Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips, has been very clear around the need for a Level 4 hospital saying in Federal Parliament: "If there's one thing to get people's blood boiling in the Batemans Bay and Moruya area, just mention the word 'hospital'. Let me start by saying, we love our nurses, our doctors and all our hospital and health workers. They are absolute champions working in the most difficult conditions. But people in Batemans Bay and Moruya just want to have their hospital services improved. At present, around two-thirds of patients have to travel outside of the area for hospital and cancer care treatment. That often means a long trip to Canberra.

"The existing Batemans Bay hospital is a Level 2 hospital. The Moruya hospital is a Level 3 hospital. The plan was for a brand-new Eurobodalla hospital to provide the higher Level 4 services and include intensive care and mental health beds. An announcement was made by the state member and the New South Wales government, and everyone thought that we would finally be getting the hospital services that were promised. But no, it's turned out to be another flashy announcement, where the government is good on announcement and poor on delivery.

"Let's take a look at what constituents are telling me this will mean for the new Eurobodalla hospital: no intensive care unit, fewer emergency beds, no acute mental health services, no dedicated paediatric and neonatal supports, and no orthopaedics. "I was contacted recently by a GP aghast that the state government tried to rip out the high dependency monitors from the hospital. They still want the monitors gone before the end of the year.

"So, locals are at the stage where they have no new Eurobodalla hospital at all; the new hospital, when it's built, will have fewer services; and in the meantime, the government is axing services from Batemans Bay Hospital. Constituents tell me the state government is also axing security and staffing at Batemans Bay Hospital. It's left people asking, 'What in the blazes is going on?' Where are the state member and the state government? Missing in action.

"During the 2019 federal election, the Morrison government promised a radiation therapy treatment centre for the Eurobodalla so cancer patients could have treatment close to home. But the Morrison government has reneged on that, too. Good on announcement, poor on delivery. I stand with my constituents in the Batemans Bay and Moruya areas, calling on the government at both the state and federal levels to deliver the hospital services that people so desperately need."