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Editorial Nov 15th 2019

Welcome to this week’s editorial,

This week I ask the question “How Immediate is Immediate?”

On Thursday of this week the Board of the Southern NSW Local Health District held their Annual Public Meeting offering clarification around the issues of delivery of service and news of the new regional hospital for the region.

Many in the audience had viewed the video message released by the Member for Bega, Andrew Constance, just the day before offering a reassurance to the electorate that the hospital would be delivered.

In listening to the acting Board Chair Mark Harrison and to the Health and Infrastructure Executive Director, Gillian Geraghty the road ahead to having a new hospital looks promising, with confirmations that there would be full community inclusion and consultation along the way.

For the audience this sounded reassuring, however, they were surprised and disappointed to hear that only $500,000 of the $150 million dollars earmarked for the project has been released for spending. Also of disappointment was the time line that might not see a single sod turned until 2023 with advice that road networks in the region need to be defined, confirmed and constructed first to ensure that the proposed hospital remains relevant to any proposed town bypasses. The audience was also told that no site has been determined; and that the Clinical Plan that would advise what services would be provided in the new hospital was still being developed .

The audience were accepting of this as being the correct procedure, however, their disappointment remained at the prolonged time frame. Most of the disappointment was centred around the fact that the primary element of the 2018 Petition calling for the new hospital was the IMMEDIATE improvement in health services in our hospitals running on just 2/3rds of the comparative staff.

The Board were well reminded of the 2018 Petition and the call for immediate improvement to Accident & Emergency, Critical Care and Perioperative services. With the prolonged construction timeline, and impinged by an ever decreasing State budget allocation to services these improvements will not be forthcoming instead losing essential services such as a our once resident Incontinence Nurse.

The question around promises made in the lead up to elections is that they MUST come with a timeline of delivery. The new hospital is due to commence in 2023. The provision of IMMEDIATE improvements to staffing and resources remains unknown. Had this all been known by those with more immediate expectations prior to the last election it may have been a different outcome. Until next Lei

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