Why do we have to rally just to get adequate healthcare

IT’S quite telling a story about a person being employed in a job is worthy of a big story, up the front of a daily regional newspaper.

Natasha Bissell

Natasha Bissell

That’s the plight of health provision in rural Australia.

In most other industries, a new employee isn’t a stop-the-press moment, but in a town with 60,000 people, a nurse starting a new role is a scoop.

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We don’t have to welcome Natasha Bissell to town, she has lived and worked here for many years. 

But we certainly welcome her into her new role as the prostate cancer specialist nurse at the hospital; a role the community has been crying-out over since it was rescinded three years ago.

She’s a humble operator and told The Leader she was grateful and privileged to take on the job.

Instances of humility and compassion in the community, such as this, are certainly newsworthy.

While we celebrate this addition to the health workforce, we must remember it took a lot of community campaigning to draw attention to the local shortfall and rallying to fill it.

Similar stories about New England people mobilising in the battle for more health services are all to familiar.

Parkinson’s, palliative care, prostate and breast cancer support have all needed attention in Tamworth.

Would you hear of stories like this in a capital city?

Is it easier for us to get to major cities than it is for health professionals to live in our towns?

Is our health valued less?

The rural health plight is becoming more of a national, and political, issue now.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, whose editorials in a previous career have lived-on in ignominy, penned an opinion piece on Tuesday about the lack of doctors in the bush.

“These communities don’t really care what the problems are, nor what it is which holds the training pathway back. They just want to see a local doctor,” he wrote.

He said rural medical schools were the answer.

Tamworth’s population is growing by about one per cent annually; that’s an extra 500-plus people who’ll need healthcare every year. With a hospital every local pollie of the last 15 years wants to boast about, why not put one here.

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