INDEPENDENT candidate Tracy Norman is demanding the State Health Minister to act on the shortage of doctors and allied professionals in the Upper Hunter.
Ms Norman said she has been inundated with stories from locals telling her about the deep financial strain caused by the region’s lack of health services.
“The detail is being spelt out in the Upper House Inquiry into Rural and Regional Health. Submissions from people in the Upper Hunter detail the crisis. ” Ms Norman said.
“A woman from Merriwa has described the cost associated with her cancer treatment as crippling. She made ten separate trips back and forth to Newcastle, 370 kilometres return, all before she had surgery,” she said.
“There are many submissions on overloaded nursing staff at rural hospitals working outside their area, Tele-health being relied on for basic emergency care and long waits for General Practitioner (GP) appointments, when there are GPs,” she said.
Ms Norman said one of the inquiry submissions also pointed out a problem with the Murrurundi Wilson Memorial Hospital upgrades.
“The author of submission 35 says that as we ‘watch this amazing new hospital structure go up I would like to know if our town is going to have a doctor and if our hospital is going to be open for business,’” Ms Norman said.
“As we heard earlier this month, at least four local GPs resigned from Singleton Hospital, citing unsafe, outmoded work practices and a growing population,” she said.
“The government must accept that Tele-health services are a back-up, not a replacement. It must incentivise GPs to work in regional towns and focus on incentivising specialists to travel and re-locate to large regional centres rather than providing FIFO services,” Ms Norman said.