There's a massive problem in rural NSW that keeps getting worse. The shortage of health professionals, and in particular doctors.
In contrast to government claims of record spending on rural health care services, the situation doesn't appear to be getting any better.
Right now, there is an inquiry underway into health services in rural, regional and remote NSW, which is up to the the public hearings stage with Gunnedah and Lismore being the next hearings on June 16.
The inquiry attracted more than 700 submissions and most readers here would have some idea of what the submissions read like.
However, you don't have to get too far into them and you can't help but be moved, and frustrated, at what so many rural residents are going through in what is clearly an inadequate health service in NSW.
One point that many people make that really stands out (and was also made in a recent article about the Glen Innes hospital, see link below) is how much better the system is working in Queensland.
How does a state with a smaller population and significantly larger geographic area manage to have a better health service?
The NSW Government is clearly failing on health. The situation really has become disastrous.
There are pages of complaints and recounted experiences where hospitals were under staffed or didn't have a doctor present when patients presented, high workload and staff burnout, lack of equipment (including basics like bandages), lack of diagnostic testing, increased risk of malpractice and insufficient staff and frameworks even if somebody were to pursue such a case, wrong diagnosis, a lack of qualified specialists, and the list goes on.
Adding to frustrations was a lack of understanding by some doctors, especially in the regional centres, of the challenges of distance some people have to travel.
And among the concerns, there was also a clear feeling expressed that the lack of understanding by those who will receive the recommendations around the challenges that are specific to rural areas will be such that they will be hamstrung in their ability to make a difference anyway.
So we want you to tell us, what has been your doctor shortage experience? Email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can start getting your stories out there about what needs fixing in rural health.
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