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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

NSW LABOR Meets With Community On Planned Eurobodalla Hospital

NSW Labor Leader Chris Minns and Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park will meet with members of the local community who have been calling for the planned Eurobodalla Hospital to be upgraded to level 4 status.

The planned Eurobodalla Hospital will be the culmination of the merging of the Batemans Bay and Moruya District hospitals. The site at Moruya was announced in December 2020.

Concerns planned hospital will fall short

With the Eurobodalla Shire Council population forecast to grow from 40,000 to 45,000 by 2036, the local community is concerned the hospital will fall short before it even opens:

· The shire’s clinical and social needs exceed neighbouring regions that already have level 4 hospitals.

· The maternity service has the largest number of births for a rural maternity service in the local health district and yet there is only one obstetrician in the Eurobodalla region. There is no paediatrician at Moruya or Batemans Bay hospitals, leaving a deficiency of neo-natal resuscitation and the care for sick babies and children within the Eurobodalla.

· The acute mental health services are currently only 25 per cent self-sufficient in the Eurobodalla. There is no plan within the Clinical Services Plan for an inpatient mental health service and therefore cannot fulfil the proposed role of supporting the remaining clinical streams.

· Presentations to the emergency department are expected to grow from 30,677 in 2021 to 33,087 by 2031.

· The Eurobodalla Health Services sends more than 40 per cent of its patients to hospitals outside the region. NSW Labor Leader Chris Minns said "“Everyone should have quality access to health care and services no matter where they live. Yet, we are seeing people in this part of the world going without critical health services.”

Based on information provided to The Beagle it is understood that the new Eurobodalla hospital will open as level 3 unless there are intensive care services. It is also suggested that there will be reduced bed numbers in vital areas such as Maternity and Paediatrics. Evidence shows that there has been a reduction in planned services of paediatrics from level 4 to level 3 and that there has been a reduction in the originally planned operating theatres and the removal of the Central Sterilisation Unit with subsequent loss of jobs.

Under the current plans there are no guaranteed Intensive Care services on opening and potentially none until 2031; no mental health unit; and no radiation oncology service.

Calls for level 4 status before construction begins

The community is petitioning for the planned hospital to be upgraded to level 4 status to include these services. Ryan Park recently tabled the petition in the NSW Parliament. The ePetition "Follow-up petition for the delivery of a level 4 Eurobodalla Hospital, with associated healthcare & radiation oncology services" has closed for signatures and has been presented in the Legislative Assembly by Mr Ryan Park.

The ePetition text in full is:

To the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly, There is no Regional or Base Hospital in the 300 kilometres between Nowra and Bega. The Eurobodalla Health District, with a significant First Nations population and one of the highest seniors demographics in Australia, currently has no Critical Care and Intensive Care service, no local Mental Health Unit, and no specialist physician, paediatric, anaesthetic, orthopaedic services. Yet these services are provided in SNSW districts with smaller populations like Bega & Goulburn. The obvious unfairness and inequity of this situation must and needs to be resolved. With COVID-19 at our doorstep, and an ever-present bushfire threat, there is a desperate need to immediately upgrade Accident & Emergency, Critical Care and Perioperative services in the Eurobodalla. We therefore ask you to direct the Minister for Health to: 1. Provide immediate meaningful improvement to the Accident & Emergency, Critical Care and Perioperative services in the Eurobodalla. 2. Commit to a fully funded genuine level 4 regional hospital in Eurobodalla, providing level 4 clinical services (at ribbon cutting) across: - Accident & Emergency, - Critical Care/Intensive Care, - Medicine, Surgery, Maternity & Paediatrics, Orthopaedics, And minimum level 3 across all other services including Mental Health. 3. Direct the SNSWLHD to reconsider their current position in respect provision of much-needed Radiation Oncology treatments locally in the Eurobodalla, retrieve the funding specifically promised in April 2020 to the Eurobodalla by the Federal Health Minister, and reappraise interest previously rejected by them of credentialed private sector suppliers.

The government has committed to eventually upgrading the hospital to level 4 status, but the community says the hospital should be level 4 status from its opening however, with construction slated for 2022, the community says the government needs to commit to level 4 status before it is too late.

There is also concern that retro-fitting or upgrading the hospital to level 4 status would be more costly in the long run, while delaying the provision of much needed health services in an area of growing demand.

A broader flashpoint for regional and rural health inequality

The hospital has also become a flashpoint for the broader issue of regional and rural health inequality.

The petition states that there is no regional or base hospital in the 300km between Nowra and Bega.

Meanwhile, staff shortages continue to plague country hospitals around NSW, with some without any doctors, and others relying on telehealth services instead of in-person treatment. Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park said “With construction beginning next year and the expected growth in demand when construction is complete, this is a live and pressing issue that the government needs to address immediately.”


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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