Dr Mike Freelander says doctors across western and south western Sydney believe there is a real need to upgrade paediatric services in outer metropolitan areas.
The Member for Macarthur was speaking at the announcement of a $10 million commitment from Labor’s shadow treasurer Chris Bowen towards the establishment of a children’s intensive care unit (ICU) as part of the redevelopment of Campbelltown Hospital.
Dr Freelander dismissed arguments by the State Government an ICU was not necessary in Campbelltown to service the massive population growth taking place in the region.
“I have spoken to all my colleagues in western and southern Sydney and they all agree we need to upgrade such services in outer metropolitans areas,’’ Dr Freelander said.
“I have actually spoken to the NSW health minister Brad Hazzard about this, and he was reasonably receptive, but I think he has been getting some poor advice from medical vested interests.
“If they are talking about spending money on an ICU out here, there are huge costs in transferring local children to Westmead or Randwick – as well as health risks.’’
Also present at this morning’s announcement was Labor candidate for Hume, Aoife Champion, who is the mother of three young children.
Transfers of sick local children to hospitals 50 kilometres or more also have a huge impact on the family of the child, Ms Champion told the media conference.
Mr Bowen confirmed that the money would be immediately available if Labor forms government after the May 18 election.
“Should we win the election we will sit down with the state government as a matter of priority, and it would be unthinkable in my view for them to reject this money,’’ he said.
“We don’t want to make this an argy-bargy between us and the state government, we just want it built.’’
If the ICU is established it would service the greater south west of Sydney, from Liverpool to the Southern Highlands and east to the Illawarra.
The State Government has until recently resisted calls from Dr Freelander and others for a children’s ICU, saying the need for it was very small.
But Dr Freelander has been arguing that in a massively growing area like the south west, an ICU is a must so children don’t have to be taken to Westmead or Sydney for treatment.
“A Shorten Labor Government will invest $10 million to establish a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at Campbelltown Hospital, ensuring local kids can get the medical care they need close to home,’’ says Dr Freelander.
“Campbelltown has a high number of families with children, but local kids needing intensive care treatment are typically forced to travel to either Westmead or Randwick Hospital.
“Under a Shorten Labor Government these children will be able to access desperately needed treatment close to their homes and close to their families.
“No parent wants to see their child in intensive care – but children who do need this care should be able to access the best treatment, as close to home as possible.
“This project will be delivered as part of the major works already being undertaken at Campbelltown Hospital, ensuring that Campbelltown residents and those in the surrounding region have access to top-quality care and facilities no matter their age.
“Labor will put patients before politics and work closely with the South Western Sydney Local Health District and the New South Wales Government on the design and construction of this facility.’’