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Boost for regional healthcare

December 06th, 2019

A committed nurse who won the lottery twice will have her passion for healthcare preserved by a bequest to the University of New England and the University of Newcastle.

Betty Fyffe

Betty Fyffe, from Tamworth, was the only daughter of a family that ran five pharmacies in regional NSW, including chemist shops in Armidale and Tamworth. Betty, who died at the age of 92 in January, left an endowment of $15 million.

She did her nursing training in St Vincents in Sydney, and nursed at the Crown Street Women’s Hospital, Royal south Sydney Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital. In later life, Betty was also a volunteer at several hospitals, the Art Gallery of NSW, Sacred Heart Hospice and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. She donated annually to Dubbo’s nursing outreach program and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. The Elizabeth Cahill Fyffe Trust was established to help address health inequalities in rural and regional Australia.

UNE will use a share of the bequest to support 50 regional UNE students who are undertaking medical studies by providing $4000-a-year scholarships. The University of Newcastle will establish a scholarship program that will see $10,000 a year available to 20 regional and rural students enrolled in medical subjects. It will also establish a professorial chair in rural health, based in Tamworth at the university’s Department of Rural Health.

UNE will also invest some of the funds in its Rural Healthcare Solutions Program, a new initiative that aims to find career paths to ensure UNE medical graduates remain working in regional areas. Healthcare forecasts predict that within 10 years, rural and regional Australians will have access to only a fifth of the number of GPs that their city cousins will be able to visit.

UNE vice-chancellor and CEO Professor Brigid Heywood said: “The quality of your healthcare shouldn’t depend upon having a postcode in a capital city. The urgent need to create quality healthcare outcomes for our regional communities is an issue of national significance that UNE sees as an important priority.’’

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