We welcomed two friends to Parliament last week, Glenn McGrath and Hugh Bateman on his pink tractor, driving across NSW, raising funds for the McGrath Foundation. Over the past four years we have brought record investment in new hospitals and health infrastructure from one end of the state to the other. But we know top class hospitals in the bush are just the start.
Providing support to families when they are dealing with what can often be the worst times of their lives takes more than just bricks and mortar. Our doctors, nurses and health professionals in the bush do a phenomenal job in trying circumstances to give regional people the dignity and service opportunities they deserve.
Charities and non-government organisations also play a critical role. It is charities like the McGrath Foundation and Royal Far West that help us ensure the vulnerable get the support they need – no matter where they live. There’s not a single person who hasn’t in some way been affected by cancer, whether personally or a loved one. The McGrath Foundation saves lives in regional NSW with more than 100 breast care nurses in regional towns, detecting breast cancer and supporting families living with it. That’s why this Government provided $2.5 million to help the Foundation continue its outstanding work and expand the services for those with breast cancer in country areas.
I’m proud this Government supports charities like the McGrath Foundation, just as I am proud that we support country kid’s access to specialised care. Every child deserves access to the care they need regardless of where they are born. But specialised treatment isn’t easy or sometimes, even possible, in the bush.
That’s why this Government has given $10 million towards Royal Far West’s proposed redevelopment of their Manly site into a Centre for Child Health and Learning. The kids the Royal Far West helps often have lifelong disorders and often don’t get the help they need until it’s too late. The new facility means Royal Far West can provide state-wide early intervention health and education for up to 15,000 country kids each year.
The Nationals will always fight for a better deal for country people. Access to quality healthcare is a top priority for the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government. We know how hard it is when we are sick. In regional NSW, help can be an eight hour journey away. We have boosted the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme for patients and carers to help with out-of-pocket costs. This means better petrol subsidies, better accommodation subsidies, as well as simplifying the claims to make sure patients are reimbursed more quickly.
We will continue improving the scheme for the benefit of more than 50,000 patients who use the scheme each year. We are also creating new accommodation for regional families in crisis. We have opened new accommodation at the Royal North Shore Hospital, a state-wide referral service for severe burns injuries, neonatal intensive care, spinal cord injury and trauma. This means families in medical crisis have somewhere to go when they need it most. Location should not be the determining factor of what kind of health care you can get. This Government will fight for regional health care and we are not done yet.