A date has been set for the potential breakup of the Hunter New England Health District to be heard in the NSW parliament.
That date is November 17 at 4pm. It is a day Maria Hitchcock has been waiting for since the New England Visions 2030 founder started the petition in July.
"I've been collating all the signatures that have come through the post office box and it's just been astounding," Hitchcock said.
"The whole community's been involved. So we've had everyone from community groups, businesses, councils, individuals, it's just been astonishing."
By the first week of October, the petition had garnered an extra 5000 signatures above the 10,000 required for the split of the New England Health District to be debated on the floor of the state parliament.
A split of the NELHD would mean a smaller base established somewhere like Tamworth, where local concerns could be better addressed by those closer to areas such as Armidale, Moree, Tenterfield, Glen Innes, and surrounds.
Hitchcock said a smaller health board would also mean local oversight of staffing issues and budgetary problems rather than decisions being made by a regional centre such as Newcastle.
"They don't always understand the particular needs of people in rural areas," Hitchcock said.
"We're at the end of the line. So when it comes to staffing and hospitals, the priority is always given to the metropolitan systems."
Hitchock praised New England MP Adam Marshall for supporting their cause.
"He travelled far and wide, taking sheets with him, talking to people. So we got that message across," Hitchcock said.
"And thanks to technology we were able to leave a link to the petition and rationale on our website, where people could download it."
Mr Marshall thanked all the 15,000 people who signed the petition, saying in a statement that the response from the community was overwhelming.
"It demonstrates just how important the issue of quality health services is for people of all ages across our region," Mr Marshall said.
The MP urged people there was still time to sign the petition over the next fortnight, saying "your signature still counts and will add much weight to the push for reform and change in the way health services are delivered in our region."
"The groundswell of dissent clearly demonstrates to the government that this is a burning issue for many in our region and that we won't rest until we are heard and changes made.
The debate on the petition will be livestreamed for members of the public.
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