NORTHERN Tablelands MP Adam Marshall has welcomed the state government's announcement of the establishment of a new Division of Regional Health within NSW Health, but cautioned for the division to succeed it must have equal powers at the decision making table.
Mr Marshall said if the new Regional Health Division is to work it must be given the same resources and weighting afforded to the existing city centric health bureaucracy.
"While this could be a significant step towards improving health services for remote and regional NSW, we don't just want token gestures," Mr Marshall said.
"In principle, I fully support what the division is setting out to achieve, which is bringing a renewed focus on recruitment to key healthcare roles in regional NSW and to find innovative ways to support nurses, doctors, allied health practitioners.
"However, I do have some reservations about the added levels of bureaucracy which will be created and what ability the regional division will have to redirect resources away from powerful decision makers within NSW Health," he said.
Minister for Regional Health, Bronnie Taylor, announced the establishment of the Regional Health Division for NSW Health on Friday.
It comes after months of publicity about issues within the health system in regional communities.
Over the last two weeks members of the Nurses and Midwives' Association have rallied for more staff, better working conditions and a much deserved pay increase - just one arm of a system screaming for help.
Australian Community Media published a special report in September which revealed a rural and regional hospital system under great duress.
Just last month there were calls for the Hunter New England Health District to be divided and broken down into Hunter Health and New England Health.
"I look forward to working with, and providing feedback to, the Minister for Regional Health to ensure the issues facing our region are front-and-centre of the Division of Regional Health's priorities," Mr Marshall said.
"Under the new Regional Health Division, local health districts (LHDs) will continue to deliver health services to their local communities."
Mr Marshall said he would like to see more detail on the proposal which will see each regional Local Health District (LHD) establish roles which will report directly to the new division.
"We already know within the Hunter New England Health District, the further from Newcastle you are, the worse services become," he said.
"In our LHD it is vital any new reporting positions must to be located at the coalface, outside and independent of decision makers in Newcastle - this is of the utmost importance.
"I will be campaigning for these positions to be located in major centres like Armidale or Tamworth, as far removed as possible from the direct influence of LHD senior management," he said.
Mrs Taylor said the division will sit at the top level within the Ministry of Health and ensure strong advocacy of regional health issues, while also leveraging the strengths of the NSW public health system for the benefit of regional NSW.