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TAMWORTH’S advocates for more community-based palliative care services have been left “extremely disappointed” after not getting a chance to meet health minister Brad Hazzard during his flying visit to the region.
The recently appointed Minister for Health made his first visit to Tamworth on Tuesday to tour the redeveloped hospital and spoke to media about the palliative care issues in the region.
Local advocate Mitch Williams said he was concerned about the lack of movement on bettering the community-based services and hit out at the missed opportunity to meet the state’s minister.
We couldn’t have 10 minutes to explain to the minister the inadequacies within the service.
“We’re extremely disappointed,” he told The Leader.
“After working for 15 months on this issue, we couldn’t have 10 minutes to explain to the minister the inadequacies within the service."
In December last year, Hunter New England Health announced it would employ an additional specialist clinical nurse in Tamworth.
Despite being advertised since January, the local health district has not been able to fill the position.
Across the health district, nine palliative care specialists are needed to meet the recommended benchmarks for the population of 900,000 people. But in March, only 2.9 positions were filled – despite funding for 5.9 positions.
“There’s a lot of talk saying ‘we’re going to do this,’” Mr Williams said.
“But we still don’t have our nurse.
“Tamworth still desperately needs another specialist palliative care physician.”
In May, Tamworth will host a round table meeting, chaired by Parliamentary Secretary for Regional and Rural Health, Leslie Williams, to discuss the community’s palliation needs.
Ms Williams, who formerly worked as a palliative care nurse, met the Tamworth advocate on Friday afternoon.
“No matter what postcode you live in, you should have access to palliative care,” she said. “But my view is that one solution isn’t going to fit all of the needs of the different local health districts.