The following is a copy of the bi-partisan letter sent to the NSW Health Minister by NSW North Coast MPs Saffin, Georges, Cansdell and Page:
Friday, December 3, 2010.
The Honourable Carmel Tebbutt MP
NSW Deputy Premier
NSW Minister for Health
Level 30 Governor Macquarie Tower
1 Farrer Place
SYDNEY NSW 2000.
I am writing, with the support of three North Coast-based State MPs, to express our deep disappointment that the NSW Government has excluded the Lismore Base Hospital Stage 3 Redevelopment from a list of priority projects for funding under the Federal Government’s Health and Hospitals Fund Round 3.
We simply cannot reconcile this decision, particularly as this long overdue, $150-million capital works project is so critical to the future wellbeing of a coastal region with one of the fastest growing and ageing populations in Australia.
Lismore Base is a major referral hospital and its importance as the public health service hub for the entire Northern Rivers cannot be understated.
Federal and State governments, regardless of their political colours, and local community leaders, have long recognised the absolute need for this final stage of the hospital’s redevelopment to cope with an estimated 30-per cent increase in patients over the next decade.
This is reflected in the extensive planning done by the North Coast Area Health Service on a proposed new and expanded Emergency Department; upgraded medical imaging; new operating theatres and wards; a new procedures centre, helipad and additional parking.
In 2005-2006, a capital options study was undertaken as part of the planning process, which signalled that capital funds were imminent and construction would start soon after.
We fail to understand how, on any grounds -- be it clinical services need, population demand or time spent waiting in the queue for funding -- any hospital could have been prioritised higher than the Lismore Base Hospital.
All of these major capital improvements, together with an increase of 90 beds and about 70 full-time clinical staff, are also what the people of the Northern Rivers expect and deserve.
At every public forum held in recent years, including a Big Ideas seminar organised by The Northern Star newspaper in Lismore last Sunday, LBH Stage III has been consistently identified as our region’s No. 1 priority.
While we realise that the Health and Hospitals Fund Round 3 is a highly competitive environment, the NSW Government now has made it that much harder for us to argue our strong case for ‘the forgotten corner’ of this State – north of the Central Coast and Port Macquarie.
As Members of Parliament who cover geographic areas beyond Lismore, we too have other priority health projects, but we know that if Lismore Base is not progressed at State level, it will be virtually impossible to get those ones looked at.
The Northern Star has a petition, which calls on you as NSW Health Minister torethink the decision, and further, calls on Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, The Honourable Nicola Roxon MP, to give priority to LBH Stage III, regardless of the current advice coming from NSW Health.
We come from across the political divide to stand unified in representing the interests of several hundred thousand Australians living in our electorates, and we respectfully ask that you act on our bipartisan approach as a matter of urgency.
Janelle Saffin MP
Federal Member for Page. Thomas George MP Don Page MP State Member for Ballina. Steve Cansdell MP Cc. Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, The Honourable Nicola Roxon MP.
Thomas George MP
Don Page MP
State Member for Ballina. Steve Cansdell MP Cc. Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, The Honourable Nicola Roxon MP.
Steve Cansdell MP
Cc. Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, The Honourable Nicola Roxon MP.