The Cessnock Advertiser Letters to the Editor: September 30, 2020

Ryan Park is the NSW Shadow Minister for Health
Ryan Park is the NSW Shadow Minister for Health

LABOR URGES LOCALS TO SPEAK OUT ABOUT HEALTHCARE CRISIS

To put it quite simply, there are two different levels of healthcare in NSW. One for the city and one for the bush.

We should expect better because we can do better. There are too many tragic stories of families losing their loved one because they were failed by a system that is too sick to cope.

When I became the Shadow Minister for Health it didn't take long for me to see that we had a significant crisis on our hands and something had to be done. I knew that we needed a full inquiry into rural health in NSW if we were ever going to achieve better outcomes.

Nurses and doctors are struggling with being under-resourced, under-funded and a culture of stay quiet at all costs. This must stop.

Those living in rural and remote areas often have poorer health outcomes compared with those living in the city. Data shows that people living in rural and remote areas have higher rates of hospitalisations, mortality, injury and poorer access to, and use of, primary health care services.

I was heartbroken to hear the story of 18-year-old Alex Braes. His knee was so painful, he asked his father to take him to Broken Hill Hospital.

The timeline of what happened next is a harrowing account of failure in our regional hospitals. It highlights that resources are stretched and staff are under immense pressure.

He arrived at Broken Hill Hospital just after 3am on 20 September 2017. Critically no one checked his vital signs such as blood pressure or temperature. He was sent home.

He went back to the hospital a number of times seeking assistance. Again he was sent home without any check of his vital signs.

Finally 33 hours after his first presentation his vital signs were checked. Alex was pronounced dead two days later.

Cases like this have made me determined to shine a spotlight on the health care of residents living outside the major metropolitan cities in NSW. It's why I am pleased that the NSW Parliament will undertake a specific inquiry focusing on hospitals and health services in our rural communities.

If we want to see real change, this inquiry must be more than a tick of the box. This inquiry needs to hear from people in the bush. It needs to hear from nurses, doctors, allied health professionals and importantly it needs the locals to speak up.

I encourage everyone who has a story to tell to tell it. There is nothing more powerful than a community coming together to fight for change.

Ryan Park, NSW Shadow Minister for Health

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