Defending itself from allegations of "cannabalising" health resources from the country to serve Newcastle, the chair of the Hunter New England Health board claimed it has actually redeployed staff the opposite direction.
On Friday, the service broke its silence on an "ultimatum" by Adam Marshall, after the Northern Tablelands MP called for the head of the CEO of the health body if he couldn't fix alleged staff shortages in his rural electorate.
On Wednesday, Mr Marshall backed a call by the councils of his area to investigate dis-amalgamating the health body into the old separate Hunter and New England health services.
Board chair Associate Professor Martin Cohen defended the record of Hunter New England Health, saying it "continues to perform well, both clinically and financially" despite the pandemic.
"The district has invested heavily towards improving frontline clinical care, particularly in rural and regional areas," he said.
"Our leadership team has also successfully advocated for the redevelopment of many of our rural and regional facilities to modernise and future-proof healthcare services and attract specialists to these locations.
"The district has supported regional facilities such as Tamworth, Armidale, Glen Innes and Gunnedah by redeploying staff from Greater Newcastle, ensuring these communities are supported and receive safe, high-quality health services."
Last week, Mr Marshall gave notice of a motion to NSW Parliament calling on parliament to express to express "deep concern with the approach of the Hunter New England Health CEO of cannibalising various services and staff from outlying health facilities in the district to support larger centres, especially the district's hub at Newcastle".
"It's blindingly obvious to anyone that the further you are away from Newcastle, the worse off your health services will be," he said.
"We are at the end of the line in this massive health district and this motion is the culmination of frustration and anger in the community."
Dr Cohen said the local health district was facing the same problems with recruiting and retaining doctors in regional areas as any health district in the country.
"Hunter New England Health is set up as a network of facilities to ensure those in rural and regional areas can still access specialised care," he said.
"Splitting up the district would not solve recruitment concerns.
"In fact, not only would this result in the loss of a networked model, there would also be significant additional costs incurred to replicate services and roles."
Dr Cohen said Chief Executive Michael DiRienzo retains the full confidence and support of the Hunter New England Local Health District board.
Between mid-2012 and mid-2021 the District increased its workforce by an additional 1,633 full time equivalent staff - an increase of 15.5 per cent, including 400 more doctors, 905 more nurses and midwives, and 156 more allied health staff.
The motion is set down for debate during the next parliamentary sitting period.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.