NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard addresses palliative care concerns in Tamworth

FLYING VISIT: Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson with Health Minister Brad Hazzard on a quick visit to the hospital. Photo: Peter Hardin 180417PHC047

FLYING VISIT: Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson with Health Minister Brad Hazzard on a quick visit to the hospital. Photo: Peter Hardin 180417PHC047

Tamworth’s palliative plight

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard made a whirlwind trip to Tamworth to quell growing concerns about the state of the region’s palliative care shortfall.

While Mr Hazzard said the $211 million redeveloped Tamworth hospital was a “bobby-dazzler”, he admitted there are issues recruiting into the end-of-life specialty.

The minister has suggested training community nurses to take on palliation roles could be a logical way forward for Tamworth.

“There might be some financial incentive, there might be some opportunities to increase their study in order to become a palliative care nurse,” Mr Hazzard said.

“It might be getting additional palliative care nurses in the area or training up community nurse with that extra set of skills particularly unique to palliative care.

“The challenge I have now as Health Minister is to go away and think about that and see what else we can do.”

The minister said he hasn’t got the answers just yet and did concede there was an issue attracting all matter of specialists to the region.

Groups in Tamworth have rallied for greater numbers in ear, nose and throat, McGrath breast care, neurological nursing and palliative care.

“Tamworth is a fantastic place to live and to work,” he said.

“But there is a challenge around getting some of the medical professionals, many of whom prefer to be down by the coast.

“We need to work on that and make sure they see just how fabulous this area is.

“We need them to realise just how wonderful the lifestyle is and the region.”

Recently, the minister announced there would be a series of “roundtable” meetings in key regional areas, including Tamworth, about palliation problems.

Leading advocates for increased palliative care numbers around the state have previously slammed the current predicament in Tamworth as the worst in the state.

Retired palliation specialist Yvonne McMaster said Tamworth has one full-time community-based nurse compared to Orange’s 4.6, Bathurst’s three, Dubbo’s four and Wagga Wagga’s 3.4.

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