The state government should appoint a specific minister responsible for resolving the rural health crisis, according to a local mayor.
Gunnedah Mayor Jamie Chaffey wants the state government to appoint a full Minister for Rural Health to sort out the intense shortage of GPs and other doctors in the bush.
The town faces a GP shortage "not far off catastrophic", and is short about a dozen GPs.
Locals struggle to get access to preventative healthcare, and if they lose any more local doctors the town could lose basic services like maternity.
Even the mayor himself does not have a regular doctor.
Gunnedah is far from the only community in dire medical straits - a legislative council inquiry has heard from residents across the North West that an overreliance on locum doctors and understaffing has cost lives.
Cr Chaffey said the state government needs to appoint a Minister with the power and the responsibility to sort the problem out.
He will take the demand to a meeting of the NSW Country Mayors Association later this month.
If signed off by other mayors it could become a powerful major campaign from the state's rural local government sector.
"Currently we have one health minister right across NSW. We're calling on the state to instigate a second ministry which would be for regional health," he said.
"That minister would be responsible for seeing a dramatic change and improvement in health outcomes for people in regional, rural and remote parts of NSW."
The flipside is that they could be held responsible if that does not happen.
He compared the new ministry to the appointment of Paul Toole as minister for the state's rural roads in 2019, which he said has been a huge success.
"The difference that has made has been incredible. Look at Gunnedah shire, and through Namoi Unlimited, with our roads strategy, we've seen enormous support from state government with road infrastructure," he said.
The minister could also keep an eye on the boards and management of local health areas like Hunter New England Health, and would be responsible for implementing the recommendations of the upper house inquiry, he said.
"I expect there will be a long list of recommendations that will come out of the upper house inquiry and what better way to have a strong focus on delivering on those endorsed recommendations from the upper housing inquiry than to have a regional health Minister," he said.
The Gunnedah delegation will also propose calling on the federal government to acknowledge rural and remote areas are disadvantaged due to a shortage of GPs.
It will also ask for a resolution that the Commonwealth should increase Medicare rebates in rural areas and reduce them in metropolitan areas to help make up the gap.
Cr Chaffey said the campaign would "go hard" to lobby both state and federal governments.
The NSW Country Mayors Association will meet on May 28.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: