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‘Death gap’ motion fails in parliament

Friday, 20th September, 2019

By Myles Burt

A motion to acknowledge a “rural health crisis” in NSW was shut down and flipped in NSW Parliament yesterday.

Murray MP Helen Dalton pushed a motion addressing rural and regional health following the ABC Four Corners report ‘Health Hazard’, which highlighted tragedies that had occurred in regional hospitals.

The program featured the case of a Broken Hill teenager who died from a bacterial infection that went undiagnosed in the emergency department until his fourth visit in September, 2017.

“ABC’s Four Corners brought (a) crisis into the spotlight last week,” Ms Dalton told parliament.

“In regional hospitals across Australia people are dying early due to one thing, lack of funding.”

Ms Dalton led a public interest debate motion calling on the House (Legislative Assembly) to recognise a rural healthcare crisis across NSW, that the crisis contributes to a growing gap in life expectancy between rural and urban residents, to immediately commission an independent needs analysis of all regional hospitals, and to increase regional health funding.

“Twenty years ago people in regional NSW actually lived longer on average than those in Sydney,” the Shooter, Fishers and Farmers MP said during her speech.

“In my part of the world, Murrumbidgee, we now die five years earlier, in the far west, it’s a six-year death gap.

“If this government can build a $500 million Broken Hill pipeline in less than a year, bypassing all due process, there’s no reason why nearby regional hospitals should be waiting more than decade for much needed upgrades.”

But NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard then moved that Ms Dalton’s motion be amended to instead say the Legislative Assembly note that the government is investing unprecedented amounts of funding in regional and rural health care to support residents who live outside of major cities.

His other amendments included the Legislative Assembly note:

* there are challenges across all regional areas in Australia in delivering health services; and

* the Government has done more than any government in history to increase the number of health staff working in the regions and to improve technology initiatives to support regional health staff in delivering for local communities.

Liberal and Nationals MPs won the vote 48 to 42, and approved Mr Hazzard’s motion amendment.

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