NSW Labor will initiate a review of paediatric services at Wollongong Hospital if its wins the state election next March.
The need for a dedicated paediatric surgeon will form part of the independent review which will also look more broadly at the resourcing, and training, within paediatric services.
Wollongong MP Paul Scully said he was shocked that despite Wollongong being classified as a category A (principal referral hospital), paediatric surgical services were still referred to Sydney hospitals.
“It is really hard on families to force them to travel to Sydney when we are supposed to have a world class hospital here in Wollongong,” he said.
“The Berejiklian Government is prioritising Sydney stadiums ahead of Wollongong Hospital.”
Mr Scully said the adequacy of post-operative treatment for paediatric surgery patients would also be examined in the review, which would start within 100 days of a Labor election win.
Current referral pathways for paediatric surgeries and the appropriateness of surgical suites for paediatric surgery at the hospital would also be looked into.
Wollongong Hospital lost its only paediatric surgeon in 2013, and patient advocacy groups and concerned residents have since lobbied for a replacement.
ISLHD has claimed in the past that recruitment of a specialist paediatric surgeon has been a challenge, given a national shortage of such specialists.
However Labor’s health spokesman Walt Secord said that Wollongong Hospital was one of the most over-stretched hospitals in the state.
And he said Wollongong residents had the right to expect paediatric surgical services to be completed in their own community.
“Wollongong Hospital services hundreds of thousands of patients – and basic paediatric surgical services should be performed locally,” he said.
“This review will get to the bottom of why children are being sent to Sydney for surgeries which should be done closer to home.”
Mr Scully also called on the Berejiklian Government to take action before the March election, so that paediatric surgical services could be restored to the Illawarra sooner.