Locals attend western health symposium

Members from the Cobar Health Council, Mary Urquhart, Gordon Hill and Bernie Martin, attended a Western NSW Local Health District (LHD) Northern Sector Health Councils’ Symposium in Dubbo last week.

The symposium was an opportunity to provide information to members of local health councils from the 20 towns in the northern sector of the health district about the connection between Dubbo Health Service and its various outreach services to smaller towns.

In addition to Cobar, representatives from the towns of Dubbo, Baradine, Bourke, Brewarrina, Collarenebri, Coolah, Coonabarabran, Coonamble, Dunedoo, Gilgandra, Gulargambone, Lightning Ridge, Narromine, Nyngan, Peak Hill, Trangie, Walgett, Warren and Wellington were invited to the symposium.

Cobar Health Service manager (and Cobar Health Council member) Mary Urquhart said the symposium had provided opportunities for health council members to talk about health-related issues from their own towns.

“It’s great to see a mechanism for a two-way conversation between the health district and community representatives from the more rural and remote towns provided in this way,” she said.

“Not only will the information presented on the day be beneficial for our health councillors to now take back and share with their communities, it was a great opportunity to ask questions, share ideas and offer possible solutions.”

She said attendees learnt more about specific aspects of health, such as how patient transfers work.

“At times patients from Cobar and other smaller towns need to be transferred to Dubbo for treatment and care, so it was beneficial for our community representatives to hear about how the patient flow system actually works,” she said.

“It was also good to find out more about the health district’s Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Transformation Project and how it will improve the delivery of mental health services in smaller communities like Cobar.”

Northern Sector general manager Joy Adams said the links between Dubbo and the more rural and remote towns beyond it are very important in meeting the health needs of these communities, and will be further enhanced with the Dubbo Hospital redevelopment.

“The symposium was a great opportunity for those in attendance to be updated about what services are provided at Dubbo Health Service now and in the future, and how they can be accessed by people in our outlying areas,” Ms Adams said.

“For instance, there was a presentation about how the Dubbo Maternity Service is providing outreach care to places like Bourke.”

Dubbo Health Service general manager Debbie Bickerton said it was great to hear from the northern sector about their particular health needs and how services are working in their communities.

“We found out and shared ideas about how we might be able to make improvements to processes for people accessing services in Dubbo so that we can continue to work together to provide the best care possible for all of our populations.

“There was a presentation about the Dubbo Hospital redevelopment, which demonstrated how Dubbo Health Service is growing to meet the needs of not just the Dubbo community, but all of the communities around it, from Peak Hill to Cobar, Wellington to Walgett.”

Western NSW Local Health District Health Councils are made up of community representatives who are the link between their local health service and the community.

They provide a voice for the community in health related issues and allow the Health District to engage with its communities and vice versa at a grass roots level.

People wanting to find out more about becoming a member of their local health council should contact their local health service.