MEDICAL centres in Denman, Murrurundi, Scone and Dungog are set to be big winners in the electorate, if Labor wins the NSW Election this weekend.
The party is promising to provide a funding boost of $250 million to lift up small rural hospitals and regional health facilities in NSW.
And, on Tuesday, Upper Hunter candidate Melanie Dagg said the Denman MPS, Wilson Memorial (Murrurundi), Scott Memorial (Scone) and Dungog would be among the first to benefit from Labor's increased staff, equipment and capital resources.
She explained the funding injection included an extra $50 million for capital works and infrastructure for the state's smallest rural and remote hospitals.
The funds will also be used to begin the formal process of rolling out a new minimum nurse staffing standard of three nurses on every shift, instead of two, at small country hospitals.
Mrs Dagg's proclamation was certainly welcomed by NSW Nurses and Midwives Association's organiser Joanne McKeough.
"It's definitely a significant announcement for smaller hospitals like Denman, Murrurundi, Scone and Dungog," she said.
"Additional staffing is desperately needed, especially night-staff members.
"Unfortunately, it has been a real problem for a while.
"Understandably, hospitals in Muswellbrook and Singleton need more personnel.
"But, the current government hasn't reviewed staffing numbers [at smaller hospitals] for many, many years."
A Labor government will also conduct an overdue formal review into the direction and effectiveness of multi-purpose health services (MPS) to set the future direction of rural health care.
The $250 million package is expected to be used for upgrades and improvements to existing hospitals and MPS, including provision of cancer care and kidney dialysis; planning for new or expanded facilities; and delivering additional equipment and medical technologies.
There are more than 48 small community hospitals and 57 MPS across NSW, often serving communities with a population between 1000 and 4000.
"The Nationals are happy to waste billions on stadiums in Sydney and meanwhile, on their watch, NSW now has a two-tier health and hospital system," Mrs Dagg said.
"We know that there is still more to do to improve both services and facilities available in regional NSW, and patients in the Upper Hunter know that we are falling behind the services available in the city.
"As a mum with two small kids I want to know that my local hospital or regional health centre can give the best quality care - no matter what its size.
"That means upgrading facilities so they reflect community needs, and ensuring that each facility is properly staffed.
"We'll review minimum nurse staffing in these hospitals to fix the inaction of the Nationals.
"The overdue review of the services and effectiveness of our MPS is about making sure that people in regional areas are getting the same level of care as in the cities."
Labor has already announced that if elected on March 23, a new nurse-to-patient ratio system would be rolled out to emergency, maternity, medical, surgical and paediatric wards.