FEW sectors have done it tougher over the past couple of years than our healthcare system.
Whether it's nurses being stretched to the limit in over-crowded, under-funded hospitals, unacceptably long waits for an ambulance or a lack of accessible services as we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Illawarra Mercury has documented many of these stories, and this week asked patients to share their experiences with us. It was a great relief to hear yesterday that the site for Shellharbour Hospital had finally been bought.
Construction on the new $700m hospital will begin in 2023 and it should be up and running by 2027. While the hospital will not relieve the current pressures on our health system, it is significant news for the Illawarra Community.
But as suspended Kiama MP Gareth Ward said, a hospital needs to be properly resourced with doctors, nurses and other complimentary staff .
Resourcing is a problem for all employers in the Illawarra. Rising cost of living, lack of rentals and unaffordable housing is making it harder and harder for businesses and the healthcare industry to recruit.
The $883 million budget announcement includes incentives of up to $10,000 for workers to take up and maintain jobs in rural and regional NSW. It also includes funding for increased training for nursing graduates and medical interns, expanding rural GP roles, increasing Indigenous cadetships and HECS incentives for allied health professionals.
Wollongong's status as a sometimes-metro-sometimes-not zone further complicates the region's ability to attract healthcare staff.
It's crucial that roadblocks to filling healthcare positions are removed because in a country like ours, in a region like ours, it's crazy that people cannot receive the healthcare they need without feeling like they are entering a battlezone.
The infrastructure investment is great news, but let's also invest in our people.
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