Health minister responds to petition for Parkes, Forbes health services

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has reiterated the challenges of recruiting a medical workforce in response to a petition calling for continuation of full maternity and surgery services at Parkes and Forbes hospitals.

But the response has been described as "unsatisfactory" by Member for Orange Philip Donato, who delivered the petition of 1676 signatures to parliament.

The Hon Brad Hazzard's letter of response has been published on the NSW Parliament website.

He acknowledged the concern of signatories, but said there had been no downgrading of budgets for the Lachlan Health Service.

"As with many rural and remote hospitals, there are continued challenges in recruiting and retaining a medical workforce," he wrote.

"I am advised the District continues to actively recruit to vacant roles, with the current round of advertising for Lachlan Health Service Visiting Medical Officer roles commencing on 22 November 2019.

"The Western NSW Local Health District has resolved to introduce midwifery-led birthing services at Parkes as soon as possible as part of a model that will create certainty and sustainability of maternity services across Parkes and Forbes hospitals.

"Forbes Hospital will continue to facilitate births where medical intervention, such as a caesarean section or induction is anticipated or required.

"Lachlan Health Services has recently appointed a new role of staff specialist to support maternity services across Lachlan.

"This role will be integral to the midwifery led birthing services at Parkes, providing medical oversight and governance."

Mr Donato, who presented the petition to parliament, said the Minister's response failed to address the issues outlined in the petition.

"The residents of Parkes, Forbes and districts are justifiably outraged over the erosion of their health services when such services should actually be growing and broadening," he wrote on his public Facebook page.

"This issue is far from being resolved and it's simply unsatisfactory."

Parkes Shire Council also hosted a public health meeting at the Parkes Services Club on Tuesday night that attracted more than 100 concerned Parkes Shire residents and largely discussed the Parkes maternity services crisis.

That meeting can be watched in its entirety on the Parkes Champion Post's Facebook page here.

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