Aug 08
Lachlan maternity consultation underway

The Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) is currently looking at options for the delivery of maternity services at the Lachlan Health Service.

Expressions of interest were called for in local newspapers and social media, inviting parents who have recently used, or expect to use, maternity services in Parkes and Forbes to participate in focus groups.

The broader community is also being invited to have their say through a survey that can be done online or submitted by mail or email.

Parkes and Forbes combined currently have less than 250 births occurring each year. In spite of repeated attempts to recruit doctors with training in obstetrics and anaesthetics – both of which are required to offer a full medical maternity service – vacancies have led to births currently only being available at Forbes hospital.

While these recruitment issues persist, the WNSWLHD is encouraging the community to consider other models which could continue to see births occurring at both facilities, potentially with one hospital accepting low-risk births that could be performed under the supervision of a trained midwife.

Several options are outlined in the community consultation survey, with the community invited to consider the current circumstances and have their say on these models of service.

The WNSWLHD Board is due to consider plans for Lachlan maternity services, including the feedback provided by the community and consumers, before the end of 2019.

The online survey can be found at and a printable version can be downloaded here and then emailed, posted or hand delivered as instructed. 

​Consultation will close at 5pm on Friday 23 August, 2019. 

Aug 07
Pitching for gold
​The Western NSW Local health District (WNSWLHD) in partnership with Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley Operations is excited to present PITCHit for the first time. 

PITCHit is an exciting new annual event for the WNSWLHD.

WNSWLHD Director of Research, Alice Munro said, “PITCHit aims to encourage a culture of research and innovation by supporting our staff to launch or progress ideas - no matter how big or small”.

“We have so many natural innovators that have great ideas about how they and their teams/facilities can improve the health system, better the patient experience, enhance the delivery of healthcare and minimise waste”. Alice said. 

PITCHit aims:
  • Capture the hearts and minds of our staff and teams across the District to think outside the box to make a change 
  • Support a culture of research and innovation 
  • PITCHit seed funding (between $1,000 - $20,000) gives staff the opportunity to apply for larger competitive grant applications in the future 
  • Encourage both junior and senior staff to submit applications and participate 
  • Be a streamlined and efficient process with which staff can apply and receive funding to kick-start their ideas 
  • PITCHit winning ideas will be supported with mentoring and support from District staff and academics from the Western NSW Health Research Network

“In our first year we were delighted to have had 45 very strong applications submitted to PITCHit”. 

“After an internal review, nine finalists were selected to present their five-minute pitch of their ideas”. Alice said. 

The ideas will be pitched to a judging channel to win part of $60,000 worth of seed funding.

Winners of PITCHit will be announced and celebrated on the day. 
“We would like to thank our sponsors who have kindly donated the seed funding that will support our finalist’s ideas”. Alice said.  

Our Gold sponsor is Newcrest Mining Cadia Valley Operations. Silver sponsors; Charles Sturt University and Three Rivers University of Rural Health. Bronze sponsors; Western NSW Health Research Network, The University of Sydney School of Rural Health, Rural and Remote Medical Services, Central West Medical Association, NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation and KPMG.  

Aug 07
Women in Western NSW unaware of their breast cancer risk
Far too many women in Western NSW may be unaware of their risk of breast cancer, despite the fact that 9 in 10 women diagnosed don’t have a family history. 

More than two-thirds of women (65 per cent) surveyed by the Cancer Institute NSW think they are not at risk of developing breast cancer because they don’t have a family history.

WNSWLHD Breastscreen Manager, Meg O’Brien, said, “This lack of personal susceptibility to breast cancer demonstrates the need to continue urging women locally to have a mammogram with BreastScreen NSW every two years”.

“The risk is real for every woman aged 50 to 74. One in eight women in NSW will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and less than 10 per cent of them will have a family history,” Meg said.

“That’s why all women in this age group should screen for breast cancer, regardless of whether they have a family history.

“By detecting breast cancer early, breast screening not only saves lives but also reduces the likelihood of a woman needing invasive treatment, such as a mastectomy or chemotherapy. We have come a long way with cancer treatment but the reality is that the more extensive the cancer is, the more it can detrimentally affect quality of life.

“We’re encouraged by the fact that more than 16,000 women in the Western and Far Western Local Health District’s get a free, state-of-the-art mammogram through BreastScreen NSW each year. The mobile BreastScreen van, which is in Forbes over the coming weeks, makes this easier.

“The more having a mammogram with BreastScreen NSW becomes part of your normal two-yearly health routine, the easier it is to keep going. The key is to get the momentum started.” Meg said. 

In 2019, it’s expected more than 245 women in the Western and Far Western Local Health District’s will be told they have breast cancer and there will be about 42 women who will die from breast cancer.

“When it comes to reducing breast cancer risk, it is also vital to focus on lifestyle factors within a woman’s control.

“While a family history can’t be changed, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, reducing alcohol intake and quitting smoking are all things that can significantly reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer,” Meg said.

In addition to 46 BreastScreen sites, BreastScreen NSW has 16 mobile vans that provide services to about 180 locations across NSW, including in rural and remote areas. 

To book a mammogram today with BreastScreen NSW, please phone 13 20 50. You can search for your nearest BreastScreen NSW service or book online by visiting breastscreen website ​.
Aug 05

Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) is urging people to remember simple hygiene precautions to avoid spreading the flu, as the area continues to see high rates of infection. 

WNSWLHD Public Health Manager, Priscilla Stanley said, there have been 1,521 cases of influenza in the district so far this year, compared with 85 cases during the same period in 2018.   

“We are seeing higher than usual influenza activity across the district, which is in line with activity across Australia,” said Ms Stanley.

“The higher than usual numbers of influenza notifications is being driven by an early start to the influenza season and increased testing, which means that more cases are detected and reported.

“We are encouraging people to cover their coughs and sneezes, wash their hands thoroughly and stay home if they are unwell. Vaccination is still your best protection and it is not too late to have a flu shot.”

Ms Stanley said Emergency Departments are continuing to report higher than usual numbers of presentations for respiratory illnesses and influenza-like illness.

The five local government areas across the WNSWLHD with the most cases of influenza year to date include Bathurst with 400, Orange with 300, Dubbo with 214, Mid-Western Region with 122 and Blayney with 82 cases. 

“While we are seeing overall flu numbers decrease across the state, across the WNSWLHD the flu is still about so people need to remain vigilant,” said Ms Stanley.

Ms Stanley said 2.47 million doses of Government-funded flu vaccines have been distributed across NSW, including over 199,000 doses for children six months to three years, and 1.18 million doses for people 65 years and over. A free vaccine is still available for eligible people who have not yet had their shot.

Flu shots are free under the National Immunisation Program for pregnant women, people over 65 years of age, Aboriginal people and those with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems.

The NSW Government continues a strong investment on statewide immunisation programs including $2.6 million for free flu shots to children up to five years of age and a $1.5 million immunisation and influenza awareness campaign. 

The NSW Government will invest about $130 million in the 2019-20 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines.

Jul 25
​The Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) is warning people to get vaccinated and take other steps to guard against Q fever, as drought and high winds may increase the risk of the disease spreading.

WNSWLHD Health Protection Manager, Priscilla Stanley, said so far this year there have been 47 confirmed cases of Q fever in the WNSWLHD area. In 2018, there were 41 confirmed cases of the disease in the area.

“Q fever is a serious bacterial infection caused by inhaling dust particles contaminated by infected animal secretions that does not just affect farmers or people who deal with livestock,” Priscilla said. 

“The infection is carried by cattle, goats, sheep and other domesticated and wild animals, so people who work on the land are most at risk. 

“However, the bacteria can easily be carried on farm tools or work clothes and brought into the family home.” 

Nine year old Seth Whiteman contracted Q fever in May this year. Seth, his Mum and step-Dad and four siblings live on a property at Yeoval. 

Seth’s Mum, Brooke Ryan, said, “Seth had been helping on the farm, which included being exposed to animal fluids. Some of the other kids were sick too, but Seth wasn’t getting better. He had had high temperatures, was shivering but freezing cold to touch”

“She took him to hospital and the Doctor on duty picked up it might be Q fever”. 

“We have been really lucky, Seth bounced back really quickly but I want to urge other farming families with kids working on the farm to be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms. You mightn’t know that your child has Q fever. Go to your doctor and get them tested”. Brooke said. 

Priscilla said, “Across Australia there has been an increase in Q fever cases over the past several years and the emergence of the disease in groups who do not regularly work on farms or abattoirs, such as Aboriginal people, itinerant workers and contractors”.

“Q fever symptoms often appear like severe flu, with high fevers and chills, sweating, severe headaches, muscle and joint pains and extreme fatigue. Chronic lethargy can remain for months after treatment.

“A single dose vaccine is recommended for people who work in high risk occupations and anyone over 15 years who has the potential to be exposed to Q fever”. She added

“Q fever occasionally affects children, and as the vaccine is not recommended for those aged under 15, it is very important parents know how to protect children from Q fever,” Priscilla said.

The following steps can protect against Q fever:
washing hands and arms thoroughly in soapy water after any contact with animals
wearing a properly fitting mask when handling or disposing of animal products or when mowing or gardening in areas with livestock or native animal droppings
wearing protective clothing and thick gloves when working with high risk animals or animal products
removing and washing dirty clothing, coveralls, boots and equipment in outdoor wash areas to prevent exposing other household residents
washing animal urine, faeces, blood and other body fluids from equipment and surfaces and properly disposing of animal tissues including birth by-products.
The NSW Government is investing around $1 million to help protect farmers and other people in rural areas who work with animals from Q fever. 
The NSW Government is working with the NSW Farmers’ Association, the NSW Country Women’s Association, SafeWork NSW, and other primary industry stakeholders to develop and disseminate the Q fever education campaign. 
In 2018 NSW Health launched an online learning module to help GPs diagnose Q fever and vaccinate susceptible people. In the first 12 months over 400 GPs enrolled in the course. 
For more information on Q fever, go to the NSW Health website

Jul 18
​The Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) is urging people to be alert to lesser known signs of meningococcal disease with zero cases already reported in the area this year and the peak period for the disease still more than a month away.

WNSWLHD Health Protection Manager, Priscilla Stanley said meningococcal disease can occur at any time of year but cases normally start to increase towards the end of flu season when people’s immune systems are weaker from viruses. 

“Last year WNSWLHD reported one case of meningococcal disease. It is a rare but serious bacterial infection that can cause death within hours so the more symptoms people know about, the better,” Priscilla said.

“Most cases occur in infants, young children, teenagers and young adults, although people of any age can be affected.”

NSW Health’s Director of Communicable Diseases, Dr Vicky Sheppeard said meningococcal can often mimic other common illnesses, so it is important people be aware nearer spring that nausea symptoms, vomiting, neck stiffness, joint pain, light sensitivity, or a sudden fever, could be something else.

“Most people normally associate meningococcal disease with a rash of red-purple spots or bruises but in some cases a rash doesn’t appear, or it could be the last symptom to take shape,” said Dr Sheppeard.

Meningococcal infection does not spread easily. It is spread by secretions from the nose and throat of a person who is carrying the bacteria. Close and prolonged contact is needed to pass it on.

“It more commonly occurs in people aged between 15-24 years as they tend to be involved in more intimate social activities such as kissing,” said Dr Sheppeard.

Vaccination is the best means of protection against meningococcal disease. Vaccination for meningococcal disease types A, C, W and Y, is available on the National Immunisation Program for infants at 12 months of age and adolescents in Year 10. 

Any adolescents aged 15 to 19 years who miss the vaccine in school are eligible for a free vaccine from their GP. However, as there are several strains of meningococcal disease, and vaccination does not cover all strains, even vaccinated people need to be on the lookout for symptoms.

The latest Annual Immunisation Report shows vaccination rates in NSW are at their highest level ever, with close to 95 per cent of five year olds fully vaccinated.

The NSW Government will invest around $130 million in the 2019-20 Immunisation Program Budget, including Commonwealth and State vaccines.

Jul 01
Blayney MPS celebrating NAIDOC Week
​The Blayney Multi Purpose Service (MPS) will be celebrating NAIDOC Week 2018 on Tuesday 2 July, recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements.

Blayney MPS Health Service Manager Kathy Hiller said “At the Blayney Health Service we take great pride in the services we provide, and being part of NAIDOC Week sends a strong message to our staff and community that this is place where the heritage and culture of Aboriginal people is recognised and valued.

“On Tuesday we will be unveiling the Blayney MPS Acknowledgement to Country Signage, and the ST Joseph’s School students will be storytelling and completing an artwork with Nyree Reynolds, and the residents of Littlewood House.  

The recognition of NAIDOC Week was important for staff and the community.

The 2019 theme is Voice. Treaty. Truth. Lets work together for a shared future. 

“We want to make sure that everyone knows that they can come to Blayney MPS and receive great health care. Hosting NAIDOC Week events is just one way that we can demonstrate that commitment to Aboriginal people,” Kathy said.

NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. In most parts of Australia NAIDOC Week is celebrated in July but to accommodate the weather in Orange, NAIDOC Week is held in November. For more information go to

Jun 28
Recycling paying off at hospital
​Orange Health Service, HealthShare, Spotless and Wangarang Industries have formed a strong partnership to improve recycling at the facility with an ongoing commitment to the environment. 

Orange Hospital’s Ashleigh Whybrow said, “This hospital wide initiative was started to improve the rate of recycling water bottles across the facility following long term environmental concerns from both patients and staff”. 

“A working party was formed, with participants from Orange Hospital, Spotless & Food Services to implement the project with the aim to increase recycling throughout the facility. 

“It was decided to approach Wangarang Industries to see if they would be interested in assisting us with the project, by collecting the recycled bottles. 

“Wangarang and Orange Health Service are sharing the profits of the recycled bottles. The money generated by the project will come back into the hospital. Ashleigh said. 

The project started within the hospital on the 23rd of May, with the first pickup from Wangarang on Friday the 31st of May. 

“If community members have empty recyclable bottles at home they are also welcome to add them to our collection.

“We are really proud to have this project up and running because it’s not only good for the environment but also great for engagement with the community and Wangarang Industries”. Ashleigh said. 

Orange recycling.jpg

Jun 25
New midwifery service in Baradine
A new midwifery service is operating in Baradine, providing antenatal and postnatal care services to local mothers and families.

The new service operates weekly and will offer care for women from local Registered Midwife, Cate Matthews.

Baradine Multi-Purpose Service (MPS) Health Service Manager, Carole Daniels said, “This is a great addition to the services we offer to our community. It’s open and appointments are available”. 

“Cate is an experienced midwife with years of experience in providing antenatal and postnatal care”.

Registered Midwife, Cate Matthews said, “I am excited to start operating this new service from Baradine”.  

“This service will work in partnership with other Health Service’s and provide support for the woman to their chosen birthing facility”. Cate said.

Baradine Multipurpose Service will remain a non-birthing facility through this change in service.  

Women wanting to see Cate for their care can contact Baradine Hospital on 68434121 to organise an appointment.   

Jun 21
Outstanding achievements recognised at WNSWLHD Awards ceremony

The Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD), last night celebrated its annual Living Quality and Safety Awards.


WNSWLHD Chief Executive, Scott McLachlan said, “The WNSWLHD Living Quality & Safety Awards are our chance to recognise and celebrate innovation".


“The Awards showcase the work of our teams who strive to provide world-class health care to our patients, no matter where they are. In achieving that, we apply both evidence and ingenuity to find new and better ways to help keep people healthy, and to provide care when needed. Our Awards have gone from strength to-strength".


 “In 2019 we received more than 100 submissions from staff and teams across all the categories."


Award finalists presented their projects a Symposium held in Dubbo yesterday, allowing the innovations and achievements to be shared with health workers and managers from across the District. The Awards were presented at a function last night.


“We are extremely proud of the work we do. Last night I felt inspired listening to the finalists in each category". Scott said.  


Awards were presented to teams for project that had contribution to innovation in health care in our region along with individual awards for Staff Member of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Collaborative Leader of the Year.


The Studer Group Australasia Collaborative 'Leader of the Year' Award was taken out by, Dubbo Health Service's Meg Tuipulotu.


Meg is a dedicated member of the Dubbo Health Service Executive team, who works tirelessly to improve the quality and safety of patient care. She also takes time to educated and mentor clinicians, managers and staff at the hospital.


The Cisco Dimension Data 'Volunteer of the Year' Award, was won by Orange Health Service's Robert Fabry.


Robert is a familiar face around the Orange Health Service, volunteering his time and knowledge in all aspects of the facility. Robert's assistance as a way finder ensures that our patients, carers and families can find their way or loved ones in hospital without feeling overwhelmed.


The First State Super 'Staff Member of the Year' Award, is Condobolin Health Service's Leonie Parker.


Leonie is a well-respected nurse not only in Condobolin but in the WNSWLHD. Leonie is on a number of committees that represent rural nurse practitioners and is a strong advocate for Women's Health. 


Leonie is also responsible for establishing and maintaining the only Nurse Practitioner led Colposcopy Clinic in NSW for the past seven years.


The SalaryPackingPLUS 'People's Choice' Award was won by Experiences in the road to recovery – Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol.


The Chief Executives Award was awarded to Coonamble Multipurpose Service.


Category Winners:


Category 1 - The SalaryPackagingPLUS 'Patients as Partners' Award: Winter is coming - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease management on the medical ward – Orange Health Service


Category 2 - The Cisco Dimension Data 'Delivering Integrated Care' Award: It pays to be well connected – integrating care in Western NSW – Integrated Primary Care and Partnerships


Category 3 - The Clinical Excellence Commission 'Patient Safety First' Award: REACH OUT – Nyngan Multi-Purpose Service


Category 4 - The Employees Mutual 'Keeping People Healthy' Award: Early recognition of childhood obesity – Integrated Primary Care and Partnerships


Category 5 - The Amber Infrastructure Group 'Supporting Our People' Award: Virtual clinical education – Organisation Development Unit


Category 6 - The Spotless 'A Safe and Healthy Workplace' Award: Dubbo Health Service Work Health & Safety Team Engagement – Dubbo Health Service


Category 7 - The University of Sydney School of Rural Health (Dubbo/Orange) 'Health Research and Innovation' Award: 3D printing in cancer care – Cancer Services, Orange


Category 8 - The First State Super 'Excellence In The Provision of Mental Health Services' Award: Integrative multidisciplinary services - key towards improvement in mental health care delivery - Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol


Category 9 - The Macquarie Homestay 'Excellence in MPS/Rural Facilities' Award: MPS redevelopment art and signage project – Planning and Service Development


Category 10 - The University of Sydney School of Rural Health (Dubbo/Orange) 'Closing the Gap in Aboriginal Health Disadvantage' Award: Wellness clinic – bringing culture into health – Integrated Primary Care and Partnerships and Bathurst Health Service


Category 11 - 'Inspiring Team' Award: Parkes Hospital facility huddles – Lachlan Health Service and Peak Hill YEAH !!! – Peak Hill Multi-Purpose Service

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About this blog
No, this isn't actually my picture. I just haven't gotten around to updating this section. It's good to know that someone is reading every last word though. Thanks!