The Beagle Editor,
On Monday 15th November, I attended the Tuross Head Progress Association Candidates Forum for Local Council candidates.
As always, it is a refreshing exercise in the democratic process which is unfortunately rare in our Shire and Electorate.
I asked the candidates, "What will you do within the role of Local Government to support the opening of the new Eurobodalla hospital with level 4 services?"
Their responses were uniformly supportive within their potential roles as mayor or councillors. Some candidates acknowledged the big picture issues in such a development.
However, I was astounded to hear from Karyn Starmer, the Mayoral candidate from the Mayne Team, that a Letter of Offer to the owners of Braemar Farm, the approved site of the new Eurobodalla hospital, was not received by the owners until this month.
I was the VMO representative on the Site Selection Working Group which approved the site in November 2020. I signed a Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest Undertaking.
The site was announced one month later by the Hon Andrew Constance, the Member for Bega, who stated that, if necessary, the NSW Government would use compulsory acquisition powers to obtain the site. Work was promised to start by the end of 2021.
The owners of Braemar Farm were informed that a Letter of Offer would be forthcoming by March 2021. Out of good will, they allowed access to their property to planners, surveyors and engineers.
I was asked by the Working Group to approve a decision to subdivide the unusable watercourse at the western end of the site in June 2021. Approval for something that had not had an offer made on it.
Now our community has been informed that a Letter of Offer was not received until 12 months after the announcement by the NSW Government.
There is no information as to whether the offer has been accepted.
That’s pretty basic.
Particularly when our community is electing a new Council responsible for planning approval of the new hospital development. They will replace an existing Council which must have been aware of the absence of a Letter of Offer for this major development.
Particularly when our community is facing a State by election early next year which has been based on some very hollow health care promises.
Ironically, immediately before the THPA meeting, I had attended a preliminary feedback session concerning Maternity and Neonatal services in the Eurobodalla.
A review had been instituted by NSW Health due to my evidence presented to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Health and Hospital Access in Rural, Regional and Remote NSW.
This inquiry has exposed the negligent state of rural health services in NSW under the current government including our South Coast.
Locally, our doctors and midwives were informed that our service is functioning at the most basic level of resilience. Basic.
This is an indictment of the miserable state of health management by the NSW Government.
In the largest rural maternity unit in Southern NSW, our doctors and midwives provide maternity and neonatal services which deliver the best results for clinical indicators in the SNSWLHD despite the poorest conditions.
These poorest conditions include both the physical and the workforce.
It is a service which uses an office as the Neonatal nursery.
It is a service where midwifery workforce deficiencies do not have the time or the support for statutory continued professional development and education once their first responsibility of patient care and their secondary responsibility of box ticking for bureaucracy is completed.
They work in a system where an MBA accounts for more than a Bachelor of Midwifery.
Our service which has been endorsed by the NSW Government will be reduced to 3 maternity beds. Basic.
The planned service will provide 2 neonatal and paediatric beds. Basic.
There is a threat that maternity services in the Eurobodalla will reduce to a level 2 service and newborn services to level 1.
A long serving, highly skilled and dedicated GP Obstetrician has submitted her resignation because of the dysfunction caused by the NSW Government.
How basic will the new Eurobodalla hospital be on opening?
That is why we fight on Saturday 27th November at Riverside Park rotunda. Dr Michael Holland