RE-ESTABLISHING Leeton's Local Health Advisory Committee (LHAC) could be part of the ongoing puzzle in solving some of the issues being experienced at the town's hospital.
This is an idea both Leeton Shire Council and Member for Farrer Sussan Ley are supportive of as its something that is community-driven.
The role of an LHAC is to advocate for the community, connect with residents about health priorities, being a voice for the planning and evaluation of services and more.
"As I see it, we have two immediate challenges (in Leeton), which I want to help address," Ms Ley said.
"Clearly, and first on the list; the need to attract and retain enough doctors and registrars to town who can adequately cover a seven day on-call roster at the hospital.
"Next is identifying the services we want our hospital to actually deliver.
"The shire council is already working proactively with Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) in a bid to set up a 'services plan' but this also needs to be community driven.
"On that note, I would be really keen to help re-establish an LHAC for Leeton."
Ms Ley reiterated the challenges facing Leeton were happening across the country, saying at a federal level she was working with the NSW Rural Doctors Network to help push the various incentive programs offered, including significant access to financial incentives for relocation, education and ongoing training.
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"There are also quite unnecessary cross border barriers cropping up through the operating models of segregated state-based Registered Training Organisations. This has to be fixed urgently," Ms Ley said.
Leeton shire mayor Paul Maytom has been a long-term member of the Leeton LHAC, but it is currently not operating.
"It (would) be really great to get the LHAC fully-mobilised again," he said.
"If we can get back to being a fully-fledged health advisory committee - interfacing between the community and the hospital and with full access to all the information we need to stay properly informed - I am sure more community members will be willing to give their time to participate and contribute."
However, he said building trust between the community and the MLHD would be key.
"To work effectively, the engagement between the LHAC and the MLHD needs to more transparent about what is happening ... so we can all work together to (give) the hospital the success it deserves to be," Cr Maytom said.
"LHAC and the MLHD need shared goals for the hospital and need to strive together to deliver."
Council has also resolved to develop an integrated health services plan for Leeton and has had an initial meeting with the MLHD and Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network to seek their collaboration.
"Getting our emergency services right - both at the hospital and the ambulance service - is our community's number one priority and will be a key focus," Cr Maytom said.
Ms Ley said it was crucial the community get on board.
"This is more important than ever with the $2.5m hospital upgrade, which potentially gives us a real impetus in building up Leeton's health services into something we can all be proud of," she said.
Residents interested in helping re-establishing an LHAC in Leeton should contact council, Ms Ley's office or the MLHD.
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