Hunter New England Health’s Area Health Advisory Council visited Bingara MPS recently to meet with staff, clinicians and local community engagement groups to learn more about the range of services offered in the region.
The Council, headed by chair, Associate Professor Lyn Fragar, met with members of the Loca l Health Advisory committee. This committee is chaired by Jennie Hawkins, and also includes Brian Mack, Wendy Wearne, Toni Moodie, Noelene Ozols, staff representative, Suzi Bilsborough, Health Service Manager, Sue Mack and Dr. Louise Fisher. Hunter New England Health Chief Executive Dr Nigel Lyons, was also in Bingara for the meeting.
“We had a chat about how the community is engaged in decision making about how the service is run,” Professor Fragar said. “Clearly, in Bingara, it has been a busy time over the years of planning the MPS. Now that the MPS is up and running, the focus of the local committee will be changing, to more about how the services can be better delivered, making sure they meet the needs of the community,” she said.
Professor Fragar said the committee’s work is to make sure the voices of the community, including young people and the disadvantaged, are heard. She said that all the Local Health Advisory committees in the area had been given a tool kit to give practical advice on how the committees can work more closely with local Health Service Managers, and conduct community needs assessments.
“With the local committee, we were very impressed with the relationship between the local committee and the Health Service Manager and the staff here,” Professor Fragar said. “It seems like a good and functional working relationship, and they are quite proud to be part of the system that is having support that.
“We also have met with staff who work here. ”Professor Fragar said that both Dr. Louise Fisher and the MPS staff reported how much better it is to work in the new facility. “People enjoy coming to work. Work is easier and better because of the new facility.” Professor Fragar said she “was around in the days of the older facility”. Although feeling a little nostalgic, she said she realised how hard the work was in the old hospital. “When I was coming and going as a medical superintendent, it was hard work just getting things done; moving trolleys, moving and bathing people, the kitchen, all of that was just not easy,” she said.
“By comparison, walking in here, this is the most modern hospital that anyone has ever got,” Professor Fragar said of the Bingara MPS. “Often, big hospitals are not as well equipped and nicely laid out as this, and patients in larger hospitals, for instance John Hunter don’t necessarily have the sort of facilities that Bingara has,” she said.
“The AHAC members saw this as a delight to come into.” The meeting in Bingara also provided an opportunity for staff to have their say about decisions that need to be made about the running of the facility. Professor Fragar declined to comment on the woes of the Greater Western Area Health Service, which has been reportedly unable to pay accounts and staff wages. She did, however, say “Hunter New England is probably one of the best in the state, but we know we can always do better.”