THIS newspaper wrote last week that Bathurst, by its nature, is not an angry community.
There is a politeness in our city that is becoming less common than was previously the case and we should be proud that Bathurst is still thought by many to be more a big country town than a small city.
But, sometimes, it pays to get a little hot under the collar to let the world know we will not be pushed around. Now is that time.
There is growing unrest in the community about concerns that local health services are again being downgraded by stealth in favour of greater centralisation in Orange.
Ironically, it was actually NSW Health that really sparked the latest push for better services by calling for submissions as part of its development of the Bathurst Community and Region Integrated Clinical Services Plan 2019-2029. The preparation of a new blueprint for local services has focused the community's attention on what we don't have, and we're not liking what we see.
HEALTH CRISIS, READ MORE:
This newspaper is now regularly hearing horror stories of people waiting hours for treatment or being sent to Orange for even minor conditions.
It's not good enough for a community of 45,000 people and Bathurst has every right to pressure the state government for a better deal.
Another message that is coming through strongly, though, is that people are angry with the level of service provided by the government, not the quality of service provided by hospital staff.
Many posts to this newspaper's Facebook page over the weekend praised the staff for their dedication and professionalism, even in the face of budget pressures and staff shortages.
It's an important distinction, and one that should not be lost as Bathurst fights for a greater slice of the health funding pie.
While most of us might engage with the local health service a couple of times a year, hospital staff come up against its shortcomings every day of their working lives.
They, too, have been let down by a focus on boosting Orange's health services at the expense of Bathurst's and have more than most to gain from any groundswell of community support.
Bathurst has fought before to protect our local health services from bureaucrats who see potential savings where they should see need for investment.
We're ready to fight again - and we're ready to win.
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