Sat. Dec 2nd, 2023

Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has had a lengthy meeting with new Health Minister Ryan Park about the future of health services in the region.

Mr Marshall sail he left the meeting feeling positive about securing better support for frontline staff and ensuring the smooth rollout of the GP single employer model. Mr Marshall said he was also pleased the Minister had accepted his invitation to visit the region in the coming months to speak to local community leaders and health workers.

During the meeting, Mr Marshall said he raised five matters directly with the Minister:

  • Rollout of the GP Single Employer Model;
  • Nurse incentive and retention payments;
  • Future of Moree and Glen Innes Hospital redevelopments and new Glen Innes Ambulance Station;
  • Splitting the Hunter New England Health District; and
  • Visit to our region by the Minister.

“I was pleased to meet with the Minister today so early into his new role,” Mr Marshall said.

“He was generous with his time, which allowed for a very positive in-depth discussion, with some clear resolutions.

“We had a very frank dive into the most pressing issues confronting our health system and our region and rural and remote communities more generally.

“As a new Minister, I was left with the strong impression he is very keen to put politics to one side and work with our local communities on practical solutions to problems, which is very encouraging.”

Mr Marshall said he was thrilled the Minister confirmed the region would see a smooth rollout of the GP Single Employer Model trial, due to start later this year.

“The Minister confirmed his strong support of the GP Single Employer Model rollout for our region and indicated he was seeking advice from his Federal counterpart Mark Butler to get the model implemented as soon as possible,” Mr Marshall said.

“This is great news and will come as huge relief to our local health staff and GPs.”

Health Minister Ryan Park confirmed the new government’s commitment to addressing the GP accessibility problem.

“The single employer model is a very exciting and innovative approach to improving access to health care in our regional and rural areas.”

“We acknowledge that access to GPs in rural and regional NSW remains a challenge, but one that we are determined to address.”

“We will continue to work collaboratively with the Commonwealth Government as well as with local MPs such as Adam Marshall, to ensure we improve access to GP services for these communities,” Minister Park said.  

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler was also asked to comment on the progress for the single employer model for the New England, but did not reply. The grant for the program did however recently appear on the government grant portal, the first concrete sign of action.

During his meeting, Mr Marshall also asked the Minister Park for his help is ensuring Hunter New England Health properly rewarded and supported its frontline staff, accessing and distributing the $10,000 nurse incentive and retention payments.

“Hunter New England has been the tardiest health district in the State recognising its hard-working nurses by providing the full $10,000 annual payments, which were made available in July last year as part of a new $500 million rural health workforce initiative,” Mr Marshall said.

“I asked the Minister today for an audit of these payments and to insist on a proper and speedy rollout to our nursing staff, which he has agreed to.

“Hunter New England hadn’t paid a single nurse anything from the new scheme until concerns were raise a couple of months ago and today, it still hasn’t rolled out the payments properly and our local nurses feel very let down.

“It beggars belief that the health district would treat their own staff in this way – our hard-working nurses deserve much better from their employer.”

Mr Marshall said he also pressed the Minister to seriously consider the splitting of the Hunter New England Health District, in line with the 16,000-signature petition presented to Parliament late last year.

“This is still a burr under the saddle for vast numbers of people in our region and an issue I will continue to prosecute with the Minister and in the Parliament,” Mr Marshall said.

“I’m looking forward to the Minister visiting our region soon, so he can hear from people directly on this matter and many others and he’s assured me he will bring the new Hunter New England Health CEO with him to talk with staff and GPs as well.

“Overall, it was a very positive meeting and I’m sure it will be the first of many as I continue to push for better health services and staffing for our region.”

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