A NAMOI group conference of the Country Women’s Association yesterday backed a motion to lobby Hunter New England Health to allow all doctors visiting rights to local hospitals, saying the ban was dogmatic and out of touch with the local community.
The motion comes as new Quirindi GP, Dr Paul Saad, fights to be allowed visiting medical officer (VMO) rights to the Quirindi hospital, which his predecessor Dr Sokiah Krishnan had access to previously.
Dr Saad said this week Hunter New England Health had told him he was unlikely to get VMO rights unless he joined Health One, which he was unprepared to do as he wished to remain an independent GP.
Without those rights to the Quirindi hospital, Dr Saad said he was unable to admit his patients to the facility, so they would not have continuity of care.
The issue has sparked concern across Quirindi with petitions and debate rising at the CWA annual general meeting, this year hosted by the Quirindi branch.
Quirindi branch secretary Colleen Wills described HNEH’s attitude as “dogmatic” and said the branch had emailed the health body requesting they listen to the wishes of residents.
“I believe in the power of the people. Why shouldn’t rural people have the same health services as city people?” Mrs Wills said.
It was a small ask for a big issue.
“What’s the use of having a family doctor if he can’t put you in hospital,” she said.
“Doctors are a vital part of our community and the CWA is right behind Dr Saad and his family.”
The motion was one of three debated yesterday afternoon. The local branch also discussed strategies to attract more males into the nursing profession.
About 75 members from branches as far as Moree and Bellatta, the Hunter, Northern Tablelands and Coonabarabran attended. It was opened by the president of NSW Farmers Fiona Simson, also a member of the Blackville CWA branch.
It was a historic day for the association as they cut a cake to celebrate both the 90th anniversary of their founding and the 90th birthday of the Gunnedah, Emerald Hill and Boggabri branches.
Noel Kennedy of Kelvin was presented with honourary membership, the first man in the New England region to be awarded the honour.
Mr Kennedy, husband of Gunnedah CWA branch president Elaine, humbly accepted his membership saying that he thoroughly enjoyed his “work with the ladies”.
New England MP Tony Windsor told the meeting the CWA was an “extraordinary organisation”, with strength and credibility in all political arenas at all levels.
“If an issue is raised at CWA, it’s raised because it’s real to country people,” Mr Windsor said.
Mrs Wills said members across the state were still out there, raising funds and fighting for rights for their local communities.
“We’re here and we’re very active and very community minded,” Mrs Wills said.