A STATE parliamentary inquiry into remote, rural, and regional healthcare has been told more than 700 children in Gunnedah are on a wait list for pediatric services.
With no pediatrician currently operating in the town, children are waiting more than two years as Tamworth specialists are overrun with clients.
Chair of the Gunnedah Early Childhood Network Rebecca Dridan gave evidence at the Gunnedah hearing on Wednesday, detailing that allied health professionals, occupational therapists, speech therapists and psychiatric and physiologist services were desperately in need, with the responsibility eventually falling on the education sector.
"You pray that once your kids gets to school, your school helps them, and it's too late by then," she said.
"Predominately the children that are on the waiting list are those who are not presenting with medical priority, so if you present with a case where your child is having difficulty breathing, you'll get in.
"But if you present with a referral because your child is having behavioural issues, you'll be on the waiting list for, I would speculate for over two years in the public system.
"Why don't we have basic services for our children, you need preventative care not band-aid solutions."
Early intervention services should be available across the board, and there is no universal service that covers children from birth through to school age, so children just miss out, Ms Dridan said.
"See the value of our children, and you will see the benefits in the long term," she added.
"Early childhood isn't a sexy topic, we're not valued."
Gunnedah Community Roundtable founding member Kate McGrath told the hearing local community groups have desperately attempted to step in to address the town's critical GP shortage.
There are currently only 4.7 doctors which service the whole Gunnedah Shire, which has a population just short of 13,000.
"Currently GoCo does a bus run to Tamworth three times a week but again that's a two-and-a-half hour drive to pick up a script," she said.
"Realistically what happens is people don't go until they present at emergency. As a result we are seeing 1000 more people transferred to emergency."
More than 700 people have made submissions to the inquiry, which sits in Taree this afternoon.
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