1 July 2024

'It’s simply not good enough': McCormack slams planned cuts to Cootamundra Hospital maternity services

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Changes under the Murrumbidgee Local Health District’s draft Health Services Plan for the Cootamundra Health Service could leave the community without maternity services. Photo: Mattinbgn.

Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack has voiced strong opposition in Parliament to the proposed cuts to the maternity services at Cootamundra Hospital.

Last month, the Cootamundra community was notified that maternity services at Cootamundra Hospital would be discontinued under the Murrumbidgee Local Health District’s (MLHD) draft Health Services Plan for the Cootamundra Health Service.

“It’s simply not good enough, and these bureaucrats should pull their bloody heads in and realise that this community needs maternity services,” Mr McCormack told Parliament.

“They need them now, and they need them going into the future.

“The Cootamundra community has been told that pathology, maternity and surgery are not going to happen any longer under these proposed changes, and it’s simply not good enough.”

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Mr McCormack, speaking in a debate on the reduction of maternity services in rural Australia, noted that Cootamundra-Gundagai Mayor Charlie Sheahan had said the town’s population was projected to increase by “thousands” with the expansion of the local meatworks.

“Why should people living in rural and regional areas have fewer and inferior services to Australians living in metropolitan areas?” Mr McCormack said. ”There’s no right or proper answer to that question. They simply should not.

“I’ve written to the Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health and, whilst I appreciate that this is very much at the foot of the Minns State Government, I felt compelled to raise this issue with Minister [Emma] McBride to impress upon her the importance of, at the very least, maintaining health services in regional and rural areas, because that is her portfolio.

“Let’s face it, these communities are growing. All the LGAs in my area are growing, and yet, if it truly reflects the community’s health needs, why take it away? Why cut it? It makes no sense.”

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When asked about Mr McCormack’s statement, MLHD told Region that the health district would continue to provide quality, sustainable healthcare services to meet the community’s needs now and in the future.

“MLHD has no current plans to reduce surgery and maternity services at Cootamundra Hospital,” it said in a statement.

“NSW Health Pathology will also continue to provide sustainable and patient-centred pathology services for the Cootamundra Health Service and the local community.

“MLHD is currently updating its Cootamundra Health Service Plan (HSP) to reflect the community’s health needs into the future.”

MLHD said the HSP outlined the services required for the next 10 years and made recommendations about the best way to deliver them. The plan outlined changes in activity and workforce challenges into the future.

The draft Cootamundra HSP is open for public feedback until 31 July and can be accessed here.

Feedback can be sent via email to: MLHD- [email protected].

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