THE Bathurst Health Services Action Group says that years of advocacy work and a parliamentary inquiry have lead to the announcement of a $200 million redevelopment of Bathurst Hospital.
The action group was formed in May of 2019 following a warning to the community from doctors about the health crisis Bathurst was facing.
The group consists of community members, Bathurst Regional Council representatives and active health professionals who work at the hospital.
Members have spent years calling for health services to be improved, highlighting the many deficiencies doctors, nurses and other health professionals have identified.
Spokesperson for the group, Warren Aubin, was thrilled to hear the NSW Government's announcement on Wednesday that $200 million would be injected into the hospital.
It comes off the back of other budget commitments from the NSW Government to improve health services in the state.
"It is everything that we have been asking for over the last four years. It has just come to fruition over the last few weeks and months," Mr Aubin said.
"We got the MRI first, then we got the new jobs announced, now the infrastructure that will actually open the hospital up and allow more beds, which in turn, hopefully, will be filled up with more doctors, more nurses and more specialists."
He said that the priority is to reinstate and improve services that have been lacking at the hospital.
The group specifically wants to see more anaesthetists employed on a permanent basis, along with more urologists and returning the maternity unit to full capacity.
Maternity services have been in the spotlight recently as news came to light that numerous women were being sent to Orange to give birth as the Bathurst Hospital was unable to offer the care they needed.
Mr Aubin thinks that the recent parliamentary inquiry into health services in particular, along with the advocacy work in the community, is what secured the funding.
"The parliamentary inquiry, I think, was the catalyst to all of this. I really think that it brought out so many deficiencies in the system that had to be fixed and the only way to fix it was to pump dollars in, jobs in and get infrastructure in, and that's happening," he said.
"The parliamentary inquiry, in my local government career and with the health action group, was probably the highlight of everything I've ever done.
"I think that had a really, really big part to play in what is happening now, and you've got to thank the state government for actually stepping up and taking notice of all of that and getting things done."
Mr Aubin said that this is the most hopeful he has been that health services will be improved since the action group began its advocacy work.
However, the action group will be keeping a close eye on the situation to ensure the $200 million promise is not only delivered, but gives Bathurst the essential services it needs.
"It's everything we've been rattling on about, and to actually see it unfolding in front of us is absolutely sensational," Mr Aubin said.
"But in saying that, you don't just work hard to get something like that happening and just sit back and say, 'Well, it's done now'.
"You still have to keep everyone on their toes and make sure this comes to fruition, because a lot of promises can be made and not taken up. I'm not saying this will be the case, but there is still a lot of work to do."
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