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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Petitioners deplore Minister’s & NSW Health’s inaction and prevarication

Dear Minister Taylor,

Your decision to postpone your decision regarding the community’s massively subscribed call for Local Radiotherapy Services, could not be characterised as anything other than blatant politicking.

This response offers no real solutions or relief to our community’s cancer sufferers and their families.

Our community has been calling for local access to radiotherapy since 2019, hoping that NSW Health would listen to our call for help and jump on the funding opportunity offered by then (Coalition) Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

It took Southern NSW LHD a mere 3 months to come to the conclusion that they knew better than the Federal Minister and two of the biggest private providers in the country who were keen to enter into partnerships with NSW Health but did not even get past the door.

In 2021 we launched a petition to ask for this decision to be reviewed. Again, NSW Health decided our community “did not warrant” the establishment of a local radiotherapy centre, repeating self-serving claims of “insufficient population”.

And now, in 2022, we have a new Minister spouting the same rhetoric, again quoting “data” as the main reason to delay decisions.

Minister, your department has been ‘considering’ this issue for 3 years, and you tell us that you still want a consultant (which one?) to consult (whom?) in December (not the ideal time of the year) to help you make a decision to ‘consider‘ looking at the situation when you next plan what services you will provide us in the future.

From the get-go it has been one long litany of how something will not be possible.

This may well suit the convenience of the ‘Lady/Sir Humphreys’ of NSW Health but has nothing to do with those to whom your government is properly and electorally answerable: our community.

Such a response graphically encapsulates all that continues to be deeply flawed about your and your Ministry’s understanding and grasp of Regional Healthcare issues in general and those of our community’s Health District in particular.

“EQUITY”, Minister, “EQUITY”! This is the very word a department presided over by you have been throwing around like confetti in policy and planning documentation, and using it again when responding to the recent damning findings of the NSW Inquiry into Regional and Rural Health. Where is any of the above reflected in your and NSW Health’s carriage of this deeply serious healthcare issue?

Noting that we are now at the fourth anniversary of the community’s first New Hospital & Healthcare Services Petition (2018), headed by then senior Gynaecologist/Obstetrician VMO Dr Michael Holland, you clearly continue to accept departmental advice that our community can be bought off and appeased with whatever crumbs and scraps are left over in the kitty after everyone else offering a larger electoral prospect has been attended to. And whether you like it or not, in the healthcare space that is exactly how our community understands and sees it.

Do not think our community cannot clearly see that you took the ball and lobbed it neatly over the March Elections’ line keeping it up in the air but still in play to ensure you do not compromise your government’s electoral prospects by truthfully admitting NSW Health has no intention of providing local radiotherapy services in our LHD.

Minister, as the popular song goes, “For the times they are a-changin”. Our community is no longer willing to be parked in a lay-by to suit a politician’s ambitions or a remote bureaucrat’s administrative convenience. Action and deeds are IN: Motherhood statements, equivocation and empty promises are OUT.

In the four long years that have now passed, and with the continuing failure of SNSWLHD to even extend and equip a proper Emergency Dept, which was a CORE demand of the 2018 Petition and an equally clear requirement of the official 2017 ACI Report, shamefully little of any real substance has eventuated. With one of the highest LHD seniors’ demographics in the Nation and a state significant First Nations community this is not just scandalous, it is tantamount to legal negligence.

Please don’t claim that you and your advisors didn’t have ample time to change course or didn’t have the opportunity to show sufficient humility and strength of character to admit faltering judgement to our community and especially to all our well-loved, desperately overstretched, and badly done by regional hospitals workforces. No, Minister and NSW Health, you both need to do better than this: Much better.

Surely the last word must go to a cancer patient from Bega:

“I just hope our local politicians make a noise and don’t allow another new hospital to be built without radiation equipment. It is absolutely disgusting […] Ministers - state and federal – do something positive.” (Bega District News, Letters to the Editor, 28/10/22)


Fitzroy and Mylène Boulting

Head Petitioners, Petition: Local Access to Radiotherapy Services

ONE New L4 Eurobodalla Regional Hospital Advocates Group


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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