A rural health forum being hosted in Wagga proved a great opportunity to look behind the scenes at the progress of the hospital redevelopment.
The final stage of the $430 million redevelopment is the construction of a multi-storey ambulatory care services building.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Minister for Regional Service Mark Coulton joined NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor on a tour of the building, where work is now being done on the fifth of seven levels.
The ministers were in Wagga for the bilateral regional health forum, which was held to discuss the best way spending money on rural healthcare.
The forum focused on measures to attract doctors to the bush and increase support for people with mental health concerns, in the current climate of severe drought and bushfires.
Mr Hazzard told a media conference ahead of the forum there were regional communities that were finding it hard to get GPs and medical staff into their hospitals.
"We come today to have a discussion to see if there are some more innovative ways that perhaps we can break whatever these barriers are that are stopping GPs working in regional areas," he said.
"I think there are some issues that both the state government needs to address and our federal colleagues need to address, particularly as we have this difference in that state government generally provides funds for hospitals and doctors employed at hospitals and federal government normally employ and pays for, through Medicare, GPs and some how we need to be really, really smart about how we make that work best for regional areas."
Mr Coulton said the federal government was looking at simplifying how GPs are employed.
"As part of the rural generalist pathway, we're continuing to progress a 'single employer' model in rural areas, which will be a real boost for junior doctors when they are considering a career in rural medicine. It will provide job security during training, better access to leave and enable them to work in a range of health care settings.
"The health needs of our rural communities differ greatly and that's why we are committed to developing a flexible and collaborative model which responds to local needs.
"In particular, what we've seen in the Murrumbidgee region and in western NSW is a practical response and solution to doctor training and workforce challenges. We want to encourage and foster local leadership to enable rural communities to grow and be sustainable into the future."
Drought peer support worker Matt March spoke at the forum, talking about how the dry conditions were affecting the mental health of people in regional NSW.
Speaking to the media, Mr March said there were "a lot of fantastic programs" that were helping to address mental health issues for rural people currently facing the drought.
He believes an increasing number of people were coming forward to accept the available help.
"I do believe we are making headway there," Mr March said.
"I think that with a little bit of help, people are able to get their ducks in a row and build a little more resilience and a little more strength to make those hard decisions."