Dubbo, Wellington's health inquiry hearings now to be webcast

WITNESSES: Clinicians and bureaucrats including Western NSW Local Health District boss Scott McLachlan dominate the list of witnesses for the Dubbo hearing. Photo: FILE.
WITNESSES: Clinicians and bureaucrats including Western NSW Local Health District boss Scott McLachlan dominate the list of witnesses for the Dubbo hearing. Photo: FILE.

The Wellington and Dubbo hearings of the NSW upper house inquiry into rural and regional health will be webcast after a backflip by its committee.

It copped flak from media, politicians and lawyers for not doing it at hearings in Deniliquin and Cobar, and being slow in releasing transcripts.

"In light of recent media and public interest in viewing the committee's regional hearings, the committee will be trialling the live webcasting of its public hearings in Wellington and Dubbo," the committee has stated on the NSW Parliament's website.

The Wellington and Dubbo hearings of the health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional and remote NSW inquiry are set down for Tuesday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 19, respectively.

The Wellington hearing will be held at Hermitage Hill from 11.15am to 4pm, and the Dubbo hearing at the Dubbo RSL Memorial Club from 10am to 3.15pm.

Witnesses at the Wellington hearing will be representing Warrumbungle Shire Council, Bathurst Regional Council, the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association along with residents of Warren and Gulgong.

There are about 10 "private citizens" on the witness list including Ronda Payne.

"Wellington has a very mixed population including aged, Aboriginal and many on welfare," she said in a submission to the inquiry.

"At the moment we often have to wait up to a fortnight for an appointment at the local medical centre.

"This is unacceptable. No one should have to wait that long to see a GP.

"In the case of an emergency we do have a hospital but it is often not staffed by a doctor."

The witnesses at the Dubbo hearing are primarily health professionals and bureaucrats.

They include chief executive of the Western NSW Local Health District Scott McLachlan, acting chief executive officer of the Western NSW Primary Health Network Robert Strickland and Marathon Health's practice lead of allied health Julie Cullenward.

The mayors of Parkes and Warren shire councils, Cr Ken Keith OAM and Cr Milton Quigley, are on the witness list along with two "private citizens" Dr Neil McCarthy and Vicki Kearines, who in a submission tells of her late father's experience of the "virtual doctor" at Narromine Hospital.

NSW Labor secured the numbers to launch the inquiry in September.

More than 700 submissions have been received by the inquiry.

It was prompted by allegations of lives lost or put at risk through dysfunction in public hospitals in places such as Cobar and Dubbo.

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