Bingara LHAC members: a link between the local community and the health service

August 21, 2009

If you live in the Bingara community and have something to say or a question about health services in the area, turn to the Bingara Local Health Advisory Committee (LHAC).

The Bingara LHAC is made up of seven local people with a passion for delivering quality health services to the Bingara community. The committee aims to ensure all residents have their say on how services can be improved in the local area.

LHAC members are particularly keen to encourage people to attend the official opening of the Bingara Multi Purpose Service on Monday, 24 August from 12-noon. A number of special guests are expected to attend the event, including Members of Parliament and Hunter New England Health Chief Executive Dr Nigel Lyons.

Since it opened its doors on 7 August, 2008, the state-of-the-art Multi Purpose Service (MPS) has provided an integrated, modern health care facility for the people of Bingara and the surrounding region.

Members of the Bingara Local Health Advisory Committee were involved in the planning of the Multi Purpose Service right from the start, as were staff and local General Practitioners who were tireless in their support of the development.

A formal part of Hunter New England Health’s community engagement framework, the Bingara LHAC provides a vital link between the organisation and the people it serves.

Members work hard to ensure community members have the correct information and access to the health care they need.  According to Wendy Wearne, being an LHAC member has broadened her perspectives on health service delivery. “I see raising awareness of health-related issues within the community, as well as providing feedback to the health service on behalf of the community, as an important role,” she said.

“Some of us (LHAC members) have had personal experiences with the health service and felt we could contribute worthwhile advice and feedback to Hunter New England Health, while some of us are just interested in being involved in the community. “I feel that it is important to take an interest in our health service and the decisions that are made here because it has a big impact on all of us locally. We are all very accessible and certainly all very interested to hear from the community.”

For Brian Mack – who was a longtime member of the former Bingara hospital board – being involved with the Local Health Advisory Committee since its inception in 2005 has been a satisfying experience overall. “The focus of Local Health Advisory Committees is to provide an ‘advisory’ service to Hunter New England Health, which differs from the old hospital boards which were more business and management driven,” he said.

“Being involved in the development of the new MPS and providing advice during the planning process was deeply satisfying, and for me personally, I will be calling it a day and leaving the LHAC once we have the official opening on August 24.”

Noelene Ozols was approached by LHAC members to join the committee, and admitted that at first she really had no idea what the role involved. “I am enjoying what I am learning and am trying to soak-up as much information and health knowledge as I possibly can,” Noelene said. “In a small community, where the MPS is one of the biggest employers in town, it is vital that we not only listen to the community’s needs but that we also support the hospital staff. We try to make sure that misconceptions about the MPS are clarified, and that we get the correct information out to the broader community.”

Bingara LHAC members include: Jenny Hawkins – LHAC Chair, Toni Moodie, Wendy Wearne, Brian Mack, Noelene Ozols, Suzi Bilsborough, Dr Louise Fisher, Sue Mack – Bingara Health Service Manager (HNEH representative)

To contact the Bingara LHAC, contact Bingara Health Service Manager Sue Mack on 6728 0100.