The revised scope and design of the Gunnedah Hospital Redevelopment plan has left Gunnedah Shire Council reeling in both shock and disappointment.
In early July, Councillors were briefed by NSW Health about the latest plans for the long-promised Gunnedah Hospital Redevelopment.
A revised scope of the Gunnedah Hospital Redevelopment has left Council and the community concerned for the ongoing health and safety of Gunnedah's residents.
“After all of the much-touted community consultation, all of the promises – including one from the ultimately successful Labor Government – we are left with a design that delivers nowhere near the services and facilities we desperately need,” said Gunnedah Shire Mayor, Cr Jamie Chaffey.
“Council’s own community survey in March 2021 resulted in page after page of people expressing confusion, frustration, anger and in some cases disgust with the poor level of services available in our Shire. We had been assured a new hospital would go some way towards alleviating these life and death concerns.”
Cr Chaffey said Council was advised the new scope would include a new acute service building with an emergency department, a new maternity, birthing and inpatient unit, and a refurbished entry.
However, these items and more were removed from the revised scope, as well as there being no mention of the 48 beds promised.
Having accessible and adequate health care is integral to attracting the much-needed workforce to take Gunnedah forward into the future and retain the population it has.
An inquiry into rural, regional, and remote NSW health in 2022 found that rural, regional, and remote patients have significantly poorer health outcomes, greater incidents of chronic disease and greater premature deaths when compared to their counterparts in metropolitan areas.
The inquiry found the rural health system was “in crisis and failing residents” which is no news to the people of Gunnedah, many of whom went years between doctor’s visits, said Cr Chaffey.
Now, 14 months on, Gunnedah does have improved access to GPs and limited additional health services, but the new hospital still remains a fantasy on the horizon.
Cr Chaffey wrote to Regional Health Minister Ryan Park calling for transparency as Council and the community as a whole have concerns for the ongoing health and safety of Gunnedah residents and the hospital workforce.
“Our growing community deserves access to great health services in their hometown. They deserve to have their lives valued as highly as those of the people who live in the city,” said Cr Chaffey.
Minister Park has taken Gunnedah Shire Council’s concerns on board to discuss with treasury ahead of the September 19 State Budget.