Delegates fight for hospital
BELLINGEN residents have returned from a meeting of the NSW Rural Health Alliance in Kempsey as determined as ever to continue fighting for the future of their hospital.
A spokesperson for the Bellingen Health Action Group (BHAG), Pia Dollmann, said the meeting drew people from the Macleay and Hastings as well as the Bellinger Valley.
“The focus was clearly on under funding of rural health services and over-done health bureaucracies in New South Wales,” Ms Dollman said.
She said the guest speaker, actor Frankie J Holden who is involved in the campaign to save the Pambula Hospital, praised the Rudd Government’s concept of local hospital boards.
Ms Dollmann said he also rallied the 125 people at the meeting to stay focused and be proactive.
“Get engaged and get others engaged as well,” Mr Holden said.
“Talk to your local community and business people and get ready to form good local hospital boards. Build hospital action groups, raise funds and become members of the NSW Rural Health Alliance.
“Don’t expect the alliance to speak with one voice as our needs will be different, but enable it to speak as one body.”
Ms Dollman said the host of the meeting, Kempsey Mayor, Councillor John Bowell, said he will take the issue to the next meeting of the Australian Council of Local Governments.
Bellingen resident Caroline Joseph said many at the meeting stated they were frightened for the future of small rural hospitals. She said a very salient reminder of the need to retain small rural hospitals came when the delegation’s bus passed the scene of a fatal accident near Frederickton.
“I could see all these amazing people working together as one,” Ms Joseph said.
“It’s the same as a small hospital where doctors and nurses by necessity and desire work closely together. We must resist any erosion to their resources which will undermine their ability to work together.”
A recurring theme at the Rural Health Alliance meeting in Kempsey was the recent rise of the health bureaucracy.
Frankie J Holden said too much of the health budget was being consumed by academics and bureaucrats.
In 2007-08 NSW Health had 94,157 employees of which 72.6 per cent were nurses, doctors and health professionals.
More than one in four staff or 25,800 were employed in administrative, management or bureaucratic roles.