Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has introduced a Private Members’ Bill into State Parliament this week, which will force the split of the Newcastle-centric Hunter New England Health District.

The bill comes on the back of his 16,000-strong signature petition calling for the split which Mr Marshall tabled late last year. He says his Health Services Amendment (Splitting of the Hunter New England Health District) Bill 2023 would divide the current health district and re-create the former New England Area Health Service, headquartered in Tamworth, servicing the entire New England North West area.

“This may not be the panacea to solving all the ills of health care in our region, but the groundswell of support for the petition and the momentum it created, dictates this is the next inevitable step in bringing about the change so many people want to see,” Mr Marshall said.

“The ongoing failures and the continued diminution our local hospitals by the Newcastle-based health district management have forced my hand and brought about this Bill.”

The Hunter New England Health District is an enormous region that stretches from Newcastle to the Queensland border. Almost a million people live in the 131785 square kilometre region, all of whom are diverted to the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle for specialist care.

Map of NSW health districts (NSW Health)

“The treatment of communities I represent by Hunter New England Health is appalling and I am continually disappointed in how our hardworking nurses and health professionals, patients and the community are let down by a non-caring city-centric management ethos. 

“I spoke in Parliament last week about this, highlighting many failures including the systematic downgrading of staff – the unfettered use of locums in our emergency departments and the many ways the executive in Newcastle give all to the promised land of Newcastle and the Hunter and forget us in the New England. 

“Well, enough is enough – this Bill will force the split of the bloated Hunter New England Health Service, a move that more than 16,000 constituents in my electorate supported.”  

Mr Marshall said that despite many promises since the tabling of the petition last year, nothing had changed and many issues stemmed directly from the size of the health district – the largest in regional NSW. 

Map of public hospitals in the Hunter New England Health District (NSW Health)

“The current Hunter New England Health District services 25 local government areas, a population of more than 950,000 people and is the only health district in the State that tries to deliver rural and remote services from a metropolitan base,” Mr Marshall said.

“We are sick and tired of decisions being made centrally in a metropolitan location without respect for the individual needs of rural and remote communities that are very different to Newcastle.”

“This Bill will force the changes we have been asking for and bring the decision makers inside our tent and working for the community they serve in deed and action.”

“I look forward to working hard over the next few months to attract support for this Bill from the government, opposition and cross-benches.”

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