I commend and congratulate Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall for his statement about Hunter New England Health.
The article spelled out Mr Marshall's frustration with HNEH's continuing practice of not itemising its reporting of the spread of coronavirus, throughout its area of responsibility.
It has continually used "Privacy" as its reason for this practice.
Mr Marshall's explosive statement met with immediate results.
As of Friday, HNEH will produce daily reports of the spread of the virus, local area by local area.
That situation applied, in the early 2000s, to the downsizing of Inverell District Hospital's Maternity Ward (from 10 beds to six) and to the transfer of a free standing children's ward, with its own nursing staff, to the centre of the hospital - leaving general nursing staff to cope with the added responsibility of its operation.
The LHD's plans met with local community outrage - expressed through well attended public meetings - and featuring the combined voice of local health professionals - but all of this to no effect!
Then came the planning of our new hospital.
Legendary Inverell Shire mayor, Barry Johnston, complained for years about government agencies (and particularly HNEH) using incorrect population figures for planning.
I personally warned the LHD, at its first planning meeting in 2015, about this - but was ignored.
Subsequently, in 2017, the local doctors discovered that the new hospital was being downsized - because Inverell was supposedly going to suffer a population decline - of, from four to seven per cent, over the following 20 years!
The government's own figures suggested the opposite!
New planning had to be undertaken.
If the LHD had ever chosen to listen to the local community, much additional expense and frustration would have been avoided.
Leading up to the events outlined - HNEH, promised (at a public meeting in Inverell) that the (new) 2016 Clinical Plan would be available, locally, for distribution, shortly there after.
HNEH later reversed that decision, declaring the document to be confidential.
A Clinical Plan exists, partly, for the purpose of driving future planning.
Eventually, it took a claim under freedom of information, for the document to be released.
It took very little time after that, for the local doctors to discover that the new hospital was planned to be downsized.
In 2008, an exhaustive inquiry into the administration of Local Health Districts was held - and produced a lengthy series of recommendations, which have never been acted upon.
Last year, 2019, the NSW Auditor -General was highly critical of this lack of action, during the last 11 years.
A possible explanation for this lack of action, might be, that government agencies are a powerful law unto themselves - presenting good reasons to leave such matters in the "too hard basket".
The forgoing potted history suggests to me that maybe - now is the time to act.