Western Sydney Health Services Report

02 December 2020

On Monday the New South Wales Legislative Council tabled their report titled Current and future provision of health services in the South-West Sydney Growth Region. Following an extensive inquiry, the report found that health services in South-West Sydney are underfunded and underresourced. The South-West Sydney area health district covers the local government areas of Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield, Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly, and it is serviced by Liverpool, Fairfield and Campbelltown hospitals. Just over one million people live and work in the area covered by the health district. It is a diverse community with a higher than average birth rate due to the large number of young families in the area. There is an unmet need in maternity, mental health and other services. Fifty-one per cent of people in the area speak a language other than English at home. The committee found that current funding does not provide an equitable or transparent model to ensure that the people who live in our region get their fair share of services they require. The provision of those services is often hampered because of the significant number of people who require translation support.

The committee's report also highlighted that services are further impacted because of economic disadvantage. The rates of private health insurance in our region are much lower. Less than 38 per cent of households have private health insurance. The state average is 51.5 per cent. This puts further strain on public services.

In the next ten years there will be significant growth around the new Western Sydney airport. A new city, the Aerotropolis, will be built to service and benefit from the airport. But the committee's report highlights the need for land for the Aerotropolis to be secured now to provide health services for the burgeoning population growth expected. Cities require housing, commercial, retail and industrial properties, but they require hospitals and other health services. The recommendations deal with the chronic understaffing of nurses, doctors and other specialists. There's a lack of after-hours service for operating theatres, radiology and ultrasound services and GP clinics. All of this puts an increasingly unbearable burden on overworked emergency departments and their staff.

My frustration is that nothing has really changed for some time. It was the Wran and Whitlam governments of the 1970s who recognised that health services should be where people lived. They built Westmead Hospital. The first of the upgrades to Liverpool Hospital was due to another Labor government.