A group of Port Stephens renal patients has stepped up calls for a dialysis unit at Tomaree Hospital.
The residents, led by Corlette's Robyn Wilson who suffers from diabetes, have met with Port Stephens MP Kate Washington to discuss the desperate and growing need for dialysis services on the peninsula.
"We have also started up a petition and in the first two days we have received 400-plus signatures calling for a dialysis facility to cater for Port Stephens residents who must currently travel multiple times a week into Newcastle for life saving treatment," Mrs Wilson said.
"I personally know of up to 10 people living on the Tomaree peninsula who travel into Newcastle at least three times a week. I feel I am fortunate because I have my husband and sister for support, others are forced to use public transport or community transport which makes for a long day."
Mrs Wilson said that she had met with Ms Washington requesting her to lobby the state government's Health Minister Brad Hazzard on behalf of all renal patients in Port Stephens.
Ms Washington said that prior to the March state election, NSW Labor made a commitment to include dialysis services at the expanded Tomaree Hospital. "The Liberal Government chose not to match the commitment, and as a result there are no plans for dialysis at the site, which is compromising patients' quality of life," she said.
"Since that time I met with a group of dialysis patients in June, I then moved a motion in Parliament and I have written to Mr Hazzard seeking these dialysis services.
"Then last week I met with the Minister and raised the plight of Port Stephens residents. The Minister heard the enormous impacts on residents' quality of life because of the long distances they were travelling three times a week, to access their life-saving treatment.
"For those using community transport, their day starts at 7am and ends at 4pm.
"I am pleased that Mr Hazzard has committed to investigating the possibility. In my view, the provision of health services where they are needed should not be about politics, and I'm hoping to work with the government to see dialysis services available on the Tomaree peninsula."
Mrs Wilson said that she had also written to Port Stephens Council mayor Ryan Palmer, who put forward a notice of motion, which was adopted at the meeting of August 27, requesting that the council make representation to Mr Hazzard requesting that the government investigate the installation of a dialysis unit at the new Health One Facility at Tomaree Hospital.
"Given the nature of the treatment, many patients rely on family or community transport to access this service. In some cases each dialysis day is a full day affair. All of which places a stress on local families that could be ameliorated with the addition of more dialysis services on the Tomaree peninsula."