Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips, has been joined on the South Coast today by NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns, Shadow Minister for Health, Ryan Park, and Member for Bega, Michael Holland.
The Labor members came together at the new Eurobodalla Regional Hospital site in Moruya to announce they would boost cancer services for the Eurobodalla Shire, if voted into government.
Federal Labor promised to invest $8 million in a local radiation therapy centre.
Ms Phillips said people in the Eurobodalla Shire deserve the same vital hospital care as people in Sydney and larger regions.
“I have continued to fight for a radiation therapy centre for the Eurobodalla region since before I was elected, including tabling a community petition in the Australian Parliament," Ms Phillips said.
“Thank you to Dr Michael Holland and the community who have continued to fight for what people need.”
Dr Holland told East Coast Radio cancer patients and their families in the region are still being forced to travel hours to get treatment in Canberra or Nowra.
"It's not just the Eurobodalla, it's a benefit for the whole South Coast, from probably Milton/Ulladulla down to the Victrorian border," Dr Holland said.
"There are hundreds of people every year that have cancer treatments and they have to go anywhere from two and a half to four hours for their treatment," he continued.
"That's distressing enough when you're unwell but these return trips on a recurrent basis will affect people's quality of life, it affects their recovery from the disease and it is even actually a deterent for some people to take up treatment."
Patients like local cancer survivor Cathie Hurst, who was diagnosed with cancer in March 2021, was told she had to choose from accessing treatment in either Canberra or Sydney.
Cathie appeared as a witness to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry in October last year to share her experience and said:
"Travelling meant that I had to be prepared for whether I was going to vomit on a plane, have diarrhoea attacks or anything, which is highly embarrassing and concerning," Ms Hurst said.
"You get shaky just thinking about can you get on that bus for that long or the train or whatever it was you were taking," she said.
"The difference between that and actually having a hospital or a facility in your region where you can drive yourself, have your 15-minute radiation treatment and come home—it would make all the difference to people.”
The proposed radiation therapy centre in the Eurobodalla region would service a region of approximately 80,000 people.
The ONE Eurobodalla Hospital Action Group launched a petition calling for radiation therapy services in the Eurobodalla.
The group said in a recent statment, they want to ensure the delivery of an appropriately resourced level 4 Eurobodalla Regional Hospital.
"At NSW Health’s direction, Southern NSW Local Health District (SNSWLHD), the local health management’s executive, has been adamant in denying the self-evident reality that our region is in desperate need of locally available radio therapy services."
A SNSWLHD spokesperson replied with the following statement:
In August of 2020, SNSWLHD considered a grant process to determine the viability of establishing radiation therapy services on the South Coast (Bega/Moruya).
Public and public-private partnership service models were considered. SNSWLHD continually monitors the demand for all services and aligns service delivery with best practice guidelines, sustainability and service demand in mind.
Cancer patients across Southern NSW Local Health District will continue to access high-quality radiotherapy services via Canberra and Nowra, making use of existing accommodation facilities at both centres.
Financial assistance to access these services is available for eligible SNSWLHD residents via the NSW Health Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS).
Image Credit: Chris Minns / Facebook