NSW Labor will invest $250,000 towards a feasibility study into the future provisions of Yass hospital if elected to Government after March 25.

Shadow Minister for Health and Mental Health Ryan Park was joined by Labor’s candidate for Goulburn Yass local, Michael Pilbrow alongside members of the community and Yass Mayor Allan McGrath and Yass Deputy Mayor Jasmin Jones at the Yass Hospital on Monday.

The Times ran a story in March nearly two years ago to the day regarding the upgrades needed at the Yass hospital.

Upon being asked about the then push for upgrades to the hospital within the Yass community at the official opening of the Yass Ambulance Station, Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman was in agreement with the community and vowed to continue to monitor the health and population data of the region. She said, “I absolutely agree!”

“We have to start planning for the future and make sure our data that’s being captured is correct, and the upcoming census will help with that.”

“I’ll be certainly keeping an eye on that,” said Tuckerman. The local member also acknowledged that the then-recent $8-million-dollar upgrades didn’t go far enough.

“Is that enough for the future? No, I don’t think it is. We all know that Yass is growing. We need to make sure that our infrastructure is keeping up with that growth.”

Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman in 2021 acknowledged that planning needed to commence but has made no funding commitment during her tenure in government

The answer came after then Yass Valley Mayor Rowena Abbey made a submission to the New South Wales Parliament Rural Health Inquiry on the 13th of January 2021, advising them on the Council’s predictions of population growth over the next 15 years.

In the submission, she estimated 10,000-person population growth in the Yass Valley by 2036 and acknowledged the urgent need for improved medical services for maternity, oncology and dialysis.

Tuckerman’s future as the Member for Goulburn will be determined on March 25 and will be based on the four-year tenure thus far. Voters will comment with their vote on all candidates then.

A Minns Labor Government will commence the process of reviewing improvements that are needed at Yass Hospital, within the Southern NSW Local Health District (SNSWLHD). The study will provide a blueprint to guide future investment in public health services in the Yass Valley and may also see the return of maternity services in the district. The study will consider the need for a wide range of health services and will work in with the Federal Government which committed $4.7 million to ‘restore maternity services to Yass District Hospital in NSW’ in the October 2022 budget.

The 2022 Federal Labor budget promises $4.7 million to Yass Hospital maternity

In early 2020 the Local Health District conducted a survey of Yass residents on service provision. The most requested services to be provided locally include mental health, emergency care, palliative care, community health services and cancer services. Follow-up reporting indicated these top five priorities remained consistent through 2020. The current health facility is often without a doctor and regularly short-staffed. Nurses at the hospital have been campaigning for better facilities and conditions over the last couple of years.

Member of Parliament, Mr Park said, “The Liberal National Government have eroded health care in Yass over the past 12 years. Locals are forced to travel to Canberra or Goulburn for critical care such as renal (dialysis) and stroke treatment as well as low-risk maternity services.

“The population of the Yass Valley is projected to continue to grow. A Minns Labor Government will get on with the job of providing health services that will properly service this community.”

Labor commits $250,000 funding for scoping work for Yass Hospital & services upgrade in the lead up to the 2023 NSW election – Shadow Health & Mental Health Minister MP Ryan Park and Labor’s local candidate Michael Pilbrow contesting the seat of Goulburn

Candidate for Goulburn Michael Pilbrow said, “Our Yass District Hospital has wonderful staff and services our community with great care. This announcement is about long-term planning for our community. With Yass township projected to triple to 20,000, and Murrumbateman projected to almost triple to 10,000, it is clear we will need different health services to what we have now. A Minns Labor Government will be committed to the Yass Valley, now and into the future.

Mr Pilbrow took time out from door knocking across the area where he said one of the things I hear the most is the need for health services across the Yass Valley to match our growth.

“We will need a much greater and larger level of services for our community in health and across other areas.

Mr Park said, “A Minn’s Government if elected in a couple of weeks’ time, will commit $250,000 to commence the feasibility study for a new hospital in Yass. We understand and with the feedback we have received from Michael and him working locally and with local Council, we need to get this important work underway. What the community expects is for Government not to make decisions once the population is there, but for them to do the forward thinking and that planning. This is a direct result of the advocacy that Michael and the Council have put forward. It is the first plank of a new Yass hospital in a growing community. If elected, we will start planning and the processes for these hospitals as soon as possible.”

Park also said that he wanted to remind the community of the ratios that they want to put in place.

He said, “Labor has put forward a safe staffing plan. 4 on the floor and 1-3 in the emergency departments alongside 500 additional paramedics for the bush…..breast cancer nurses and women’s health funding across NSW. We are looking down the runway. I want to make it very, very clear today that I have heard and listened to the Regional and Rural health inquiry. It was fought and opposed by the Liberal and National Governments.”

“It is a great day for Yass, a great day for health care workers and patients going forward.”

Yass Mayor Allan McGrath said, “It’s really exciting… we have all been passionate about the Yass hospital for a long time and it’s a valuable community asset. The community is committed to it. The train has left the station according to Yass. It’s essential that we continue to plan for the future. It’s a real comfort to know that we have an alternative Government that is prepared to plan for the future.”

Community Consultative Committee Chair Jill McGovern said, “Yass Hospital has such a wonderful reputation as Allan described in terms of the trust of the community here. It was first formed over 150 years ago by community donations; it was the 6th hospital to be built in NSW. Canberra is the fastest-growing centre in Australia. The commuting and the development here isn’t going to stop, so it is critical that a feasibility study is going to be done.”

“It is fundamental to human rights that we have the same rights as city folk, the funding issues alone disadvantages rural and regional hospitals.”

Deputy Mayor Jasmin Jones said, “Our population is set to grow to 27,000 by 2036, 44,000 by 2056. This sort of forward planning is what our community needs. When you have a health crisis you need services on the ground whether it’s renal or cancer or a heart attack or maternity, all of our figures are going to double. We have not had this commitment from the current sitting member, she talked about it in 2021 and has done nothing for our community and I’m so pleased to see Ryan and Michael on the ground. Everyone knows it takes about a decade to complete a new hospital.”

NSW Labor’s Shadow Health Minister Ryan Park MP & local Labor candidate Michael Pilbrow meet with community members to announce the funding & commitment to scope infrastructure & services upgrade at Yass Hospital

Park said that the coalition had lost its way and had put a focus on ribbon-cutting and plaques and the problem is health care workers have not been the focus of the Government.

“We have to deliver better services locally, the bottom line is we can’t leave rural and regional communities out on the vine and just focus on our metropolitan cities when we know from the inquiry that the system is letting people down.”

Park stated that maternity services had seen an allocation from the Federal Government ($4.7 million) and if elected he would be sitting down with Minister Butler to get the services into the community as quickly and safely as possible.

Park said that the Federal Government will get from him any level of support they need.

Bec Duncan member of New Yass Hospital with Maternity Working Group, Jill McGovern, Yass Hospital Community Consultative Committee Chair, Judith Williams CCC member, Yass Deputy Mayor Jasmin Jones & New Yass Hospital working group member, NSW Labor Shadow Health Minister Ryan Park MP, Labor Candidate for Goulburn Michael Pilbrow and Yass Valley Mayor Allan McGrath at Yass Hospital on Monday

Hospital facilities are not the only areas of health being looked at, with Bureau of Health Information data highlighting more than 1,800 people are on the elective surgery waiting list in the Local Health District and only 34% of P1 Ambulance callouts in Yass were responded to within 15 minutes. According to Labor, “After 12 years under the Liberals and Nationals, the hospitals and health system has been left understaffed and over-stretched. As a result, hospital and treatment wait times have continued to escalate. Under Dominic Perrottet and the Liberals and Nationals, people in NSW have to wait longer to get an ambulance, longer to be treated in an emergency department and longer for important non-urgent surgeries.”   Labor has committed $150 million to fund an additional 500 paramedics in their first term. The new workforce will be spread across areas with the most need – to be determined following significant consultation with health care professionals. Emergencies requiring rapid responses and rapid patient transport to larger hospitals will see an investment to build three new helicopter ambulance bases, to reduce emergency health response times in regional and rural NSW. This will cost $70 million. 2,000 healthcare students a year will be eligible to apply for a study subsidy of $12,000 to help pay for their degree – paid at $4,000 a year for three years.

$19.5 million over three years has also been committed to fund an additional 29 McGrath Breast Care nurses to support people right across New South Wales.

  • Labor is also looking at women’s health centres with $100 million over five years to ensure the 20 centres across the state can operate sustainably and deliver health services that meet the needs of the community.
  • Other improvements include: appointing a department secretary to oversee the implementation of rural health recommendations and establishing a special commission of inquiry into health funding to ensure money is being spent effectively to improve health outcomes across the state.
  • Labor has also made a sizeable commitment under a Minn’s Government to boost access for mental health services for young people in New South Wales by committing $17 million to the Kids Helpline over four years to increase their capacity to respond to a rising number of calls. A Minns Labor Government will establish legislation to enshrine a whole-of-government approach to suicide prevention and also guarantee lifeline’s current funding, with an additional commitment of $8.2 million over five years to increase text and webchat services, something that is being used at higher levels, especially since the pandemic.

Park praised Pilbrow as a terrific candidate. He said, “A hard-working local businessman, he has the runs on the ground, he is a tremendous advocate, a very strong communicator who understands the challenges and risks that small communities have, but let’s make it very clear, this is going to be an uphill battle, this is not going to be an easy seat to win, this is a mountain to climb, Labor is doing its absolute best. I know with Michael as our candidate when we get to Saturday in a few weeks’ time we would have given our very best when it comes to providing this community and the broader electorate an opportunity for an alternative government for NSW.

When asked how Labor would or may have to work with Independents to form Government, Park said that Labor has a really good relationship with the crossbench. “I have had many chats with all of them, over rural and regional healthcare. I value their opinion. They represent communities. Labor is in this to form Government on its own. We have to put our best foot forward.”

Pilbrow said that the fresh start that Labor is bringing is because of the need in the community. He highlighted the coalition’s grants regarding bushfires which went to coalition-held seats.