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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Bega Mayor opens new Moruya Emergency Department ? aided by Premier ?

Oddly the opening of the Moruya Emergency Department demountable extension was opened by The Premier and his sidekick, the Mayor of Bega, well outside his LGA boundary. There was no sign of the member for the electorate, Dr Michael Holland, nor was there the presence of the Mayor of Eurobodalla, Mat Hatcher. Along with The Beagle it appears that neither the State Member for Bega or the Mayor of Eurobodalla were invited to what can only be seen as a secretive, under the radar visit known only to handpicked media. The Premier was in the region to attend an invitation only lunch in Narooma in support of the Mayor of Bega, a Liberal candidate for the upcoming State election. This explains why the said candidate was present at the opening of the demountable wing in Moruya. The wing has been provided as a temporary transition to the provision of a Level Four Emergency Department in the new Eurobodalla Regional Hospital. Like the previous Prime Minister, the NSW Premier and his Minister for Health are both cautious of visiting the South East. This explains why they visit to Moruya Hospital today was kept under wraps, in order to control the narrative that has been the bane of the NSW Government - being a lack of resources, understaffing, and a failure to deliver on promises. Making their presence known were a small assembly that stood outside the hospital grounds displaying protest placards that raised, once again, the issue of patient ratios and understaffing. In order to bypass the protestors the Premier and his entourage were hastily taken through a back entry where hospital staff had been assembled for a meet and greet handshake opportunity with the media given little opportunity to ask the hard questions. The surreptitious move was orchestrated from the start given that a red ribbon, posters and lectern decoy had been placed at the front of the hospital to attract the protestors while NSW Police in black t-shirts manned the emergency door entrance to bustle protestors who might dare follow the Premier as he entered via the rear doors.

Above: The Ruse - a lectern and some posters to draw the protagonists while you sneak in with a Plan B by the back door. It was clear to those who observed that the visit was planned to reduce the media exposure of any negatives and to control the narrative by evading the hard questions that might be asked by less informed and more acquiescent journalists. Questions such as: Premier, it is less than a week since the South East lost its maternity services. Now we are facing the reality that most fractures suffered in the region will now be treated outside of the region. Staffing shortages across the have not improved as were promised. What is your response? Will you support Labor's Safe Staffing Levels committment? Premier, the new facility is now open. Can you advise who will be staffing it given that the current ED is understaffed. Premier, an inquiry called for this upgrade in 2018. Why has it taken 5 years for this temporary fix to open? And why is it being opened after the holiday season of 2022-2023 rather than before to service the peak demands the region experienced? Premier, there is double talk around the new Eurobodalla Regional Hospital opening as a Level Four. In December 2021 your Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, said that the services "will PROGRESS to a Level 4 role delineation" then, 1 month later on January 21st, 2022, stated that committed to opening the new Eurobodalla Hospital as a level four facility ahead of the Bega and Monaro by-election.

Now the response is: “The Eurobodalla Regional Hospital will be built to accommodate a Level 4 health facility” (response from the Frequently Asked Questions - Eurobodalla Hospital and Health Services Redevelopment)

But these questions weren't asked.

Above: Five protesters assembled in a hope of meeting the Premier and offering a South East perspective on staff shortages and ratios in the region. The Premier was not willing to engage and instead ran a subterfuge in order to bypass any confrontation.

The cutting of the second ribbon. The opening of the extension may well have been all the justification the Premier needed to officially cover the costs of the visit to the South East where the singular purpose was to garner support for the Liberal Candidate in the upcoming State election. The embarrassment of the day was the presence of Bega Mayor Russel Fitzpatrick who said nothing and served only to hold one end of the ribbon, reminiscent of the nodding backdrop we saw when Minister Hazzard came to the region to make yet another vacuous health announcement as a means to gain media exposure for the then Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs

The uninvited Member for Bega, Dr Michael Holland, told The Beagle "The opening of the Moruya emergency department extensions are a validation of my 20 years service to the Eurobodalla health system and my advocacy for improvements to services to the community". "In 2017, I organised a meeting of emergency specialists, surgeons, anaesthetists, GPs, and a former SNSWLHD board member to express our concerns regarding services in the Eurobodalla.

"This led to the agency for clinical innovation performing a review in 2017

"The findings of the review recommending improvements to critical care and perioperative care were not released until 2018

"Because of this delay and inaction, in 2018 a petition of 3500 signatures was achieved in 3 weeks.

"The petition sought improvements in critical care, emergency services, and perioperative services".

"It requested the building of a single new Level 4 Eurobodalla regional hospital." In regards to the staffing of the new facility Dr Holland said "I have previously been informed by emergency doctors and nurses in Moruya regarding the shortage of registered nurses to staff the existing emergency department and the inordinate length of time for applications to be processed for appointments. This has led to applicants applying elsewhere".


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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