NSW Health has apologised for the state of services being offered to those in rural and regional areas.
The apology came on Wednesday at a state parliamentary inquiry into health outcomes and access to services outside major cities.
Some of the concerns raised in the hearings include hospitals running out of basic medications such as Panadol and operating theatres not being used due to a lack of required specifications, the ABC reported.
“We acknowledge there has been evidence to the inquiry of regrettable patient experiences and outcomes,” said Nigel Lyons, NSW Health deputy secretary of health system strategy and planning.
“To these people and their families, we sincerely apologise for experiences that did not meet the highest standards of healthcare that we expect in this state.
“On behalf of NSW Health, we reiterate our commitment to continual improvement and to ensure that all patients in the future receive the high-quality care expected and deserved.”
In response to concerns of hospitals running out of medicine, Mr Lyons said his department’s investigations had not revealed anything of that sort.
He also explained it was normal for operating theatres to be empty in some circumstances when they were not needed.
“Just because a facility is built with a certain number of operating theatres or rooms for treatment, it doesn‘t mean that they all need to be operational at all times,” Mr Lyons said.
Some of the strategies put forward by the department to improve services outside cities included more clearly defined roles and targeting healthcare and staff training more towards specific community needs.
Mr Lyons said this would require more consultation with communities in developing their medical services.
“What I’m surprised about is the extent to which, despite all the efforts that we have made, there are still so many factors that are working against those things that we have put in place,” Mr Lyons said.
Chairman of the inquiry, Labor MP Greg Donnelly, thanked witnesses who had shared their traumatic experiences with the committee in order to help bring change.
“In fact, it has been excruciatingly difficult, often taking them back to difficult – sometimes tragic – experiences or incidences involving family members and friends,” Mr Donnelly said.
“For the individuals providing their evidence, this has been raw and deeply emotional.”