Slow decline in services
As a resident of the Leeton District since 1968, it has become clear to me that we have watched a slow decline of essential government services in our region.
The most alarming one is undoubtedly our public health services.
When I grew up, Leeton Hospital could perform caesarean sections, vasectomies, minor hernia operations, epidurals, set broken bones, remove infected tonsils and appendix, stich up wounds and numerous other basic everyday procedures.
By the time my father in law became ill in the early 2000s we had all learned to rely heavily on Griffith Base Hospital as most of the services at Leeton were no longer available.
When we needed ambulances it became difficult because they were instructed to go to LDH but we knew that it was not the best place for him to go.
We became the ambulance service to make sure he went straight to Griffith to access the help he needed.
Now Griffith Base Hospital is losing services and people are being sent to Wagga.
In emergencies families have to tackle the Kangaroo infested roads to get their loved ones to the help they need.
It’s problematic enough for us Leeton residents, but spare a thought for the people who live further west of Griffith and can no longer depend on the hospital services there.
After travelling around the whole Murray district with Helen Dalton to ask communities about health care services, the story is much the same wherever we went.
All of our hospitals need upgrading or - in some cases like Griffith and Deniliquin, a rebuild. Most distressingly, the services that we have all taken for granted are rapidly disappearing.
We don’t expect to have brain surgeons on call, but it’s not unreasonable to expect there are qualified people available 24/7 to safely deliver babies, treat injuries like cuts and breaks and deal quickly with people who present with high fevers or other urgent problems.
Only two weeks ago, LDH was without a doctor on call for two days.
It’s ironic that state and federal Governments are talking about decentralisation and encouraging industry to move to our regional areas.
They say they want to attract “young professionals” to our areas.
However it begs the question … if you were a ‘young professional’ wanting to move to our vibrant and productive region and raise your family here … if you knew that basic public health services in our hospitals are stretched too far or have disappeared … would you want to move here?
I think the most important ‘young professionals’ we need to attract are experienced doctors and nurses.
The next in line would have to be our education and policing services.
It’s really not acceptable that 30 years ago I had better access to all these services than are available now.
Debbie Buller, Murrami
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