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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 6889

Dr MIKE KELLY (Eden-Monaro) (11:41): In my time as member for Eden-Monaro, a constant theme of the issues that constituents raise with me has been health and the deficiencies of health in rural and regional areas. It is the No. 1 issue in surveys that I conduct as the local member, so it was a major focus for my efforts when I was a member of government—getting the new South East Regional Hospital built and getting millions of dollars committed to a number of primary health provision services, including two wonderful superclinics, that have done a tremendous job in improving health services throughout our region. That is because I was listening to my community and to the health workforce.

We have seen that the coalition has a tin ear on health matters. The Abbott government came in promising no cuts to health and education and immediately trashed the National Health Reform Agreement that we entered into with the states in 2011. My predecessor in Eden-Monaro, between 2013 and 2016, also demonstrated a tin ear on these issues. Now we have Senator Molan, who has clearly been appointed by the government to be the official white-anter against me instead of listening to the community, providing health to the community, meeting with constituents, as I do on a daily basis, or conducting health forums, as I do. There were no members of the coalition at the massive rally at the Bega civic centre last year, where there were over 400 people who were deeply concerned about the effects that were being felt in the South East Regional Hospital. There was no-one there other than me that day to listen to them and take on board their complaints.

I get correspondence regularly about these issues, so it was ridiculous to hear Senator Molan get up last Monday and say that everything is sweet, everything is hunky-dory, in the health scene in our region. This is just one piece of correspondence—that I received last night—from a constituent in relation to the South East Regional Hospital. This is from Mary, who gave me full permission to read this to this chamber:

Why oh why has this hospital been built when it can't afford to be staffed with experienced Surgeons Doctors and nurses.

The staff that are there are really doing there best but run off their feet, a lady who had a stroke and broke her arm four days ago is still waiting for a doctor to look at it to get fixed. She is worried now that it will have to be pinned because it has been so long.

For myself I am told by the Orthopaedic surgeon that he has referred me to Canberra Hospital as they don't do re- do of hip replacement in Bega. It has been nearly 2 months now and still haven't received an out patients appointment from Canberra Hospital. I had my hip replaced when I was 49years old and has lasted me 22years. As it has only just started to go I was hoping It could be replaced before it became too severe. Unfortunately I have been told it will be at least Two years in which time it will have deteriorated quite badly. I am a very fit person and look after my weight and exercise regular.

You have a brand new hospital in Bega and unfortunately cannot service all the surrounding areas efficiently. Therefore we ask you to really look into more funding for this hospital. We are just a couple, but know that there are more.

To get sufficient funding which is desperately needed would be greatly appreciated by all the surrounding areas.

That's not one isolated piece of correspondence. It's just an example. Those are the voices that Senator Molan is not listening to, demonstrating his tin ear.

These are the official statistics that I have from last month in relation to this hospital. These are from the Bureau of Health Information and show that waits for elective surgery are still among the longest in the state. The medium wait for elective surgery is 206 days. Ten per cent of patients waited 368 days for elective surgery. There are 825 patients on the elective surgery waiting list at the South East Regional Hospital, an increase from the 756 a year ago. Of the 825 patients, there are 430 for orthopaedic surgery, 214 for total knee replacement, 85 for cataract surgery and 66 for hip replacements. The median wait for orthopaedic surgery is 206 days, cataract removal is 180 days, knee replacement is 248 days and hip replacement is 246 days. That's the reality that Mr Molan doesn't appreciate, and this is why Labor has introduced its plan to refund our public hospitals and to refund the issues of elective surgery and MRIs, particularly aimed at helping the situation in the rural and regional health scene. I'm listening to this community. I delivered for them before and will deliver for them again. Mr Molan needs to start opening his ears and talk to real people, real doctors and real nurses.