The first hospital redevelopment meeting, since Hunter New England Health (HNEH) agreed last month to revise the population data used in planning the facility, will take place on Thursday evening.
The meeting between state government, health and local representatives will follow-up questions as to whether HNEH used outdated population data in planning the project. The department has, for the first time, also released the hospital’s clinical plan to those attending this week’s meeting, so that medical services can be discussed in more detail.
Inverell Shire Mayor Paul Harmon, who will be at the discussion, said the community will not accept a decrease in the number of beds in the maternity or general wards, or in day surgery; and that it will also be unacceptable to class any chairs as “beds” too.
He said two fully operational and maintained surgical theatres are expected as well as increased provision for dialysis patients; and that questions will be asked about getting a CT scanner.
“Our community won’t accept anything less than it has now [and] we want to make sure the facility has the ability to grow with the community’s needs,” he said.
October’s meeting was held after discussions between Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall and the mayor prompted the NSW Minister for Health to call on HNEH and Health Infrastructure NSW to hold further consultations with key Inverell stakeholders. That included a group of local GPs who described the hospital redevelopment as “a downgrade disguised as an upgrade”.
In the wake of that first consultation, HNEH’s chief executive Michael Di Rienzo agreed to review the data available on Inverell’s population saying that if “any significant changes” were found the department would revisit its redevelopment plans.
Cr Harmon said if the health authority calls for more funds to build the new facility, he will be asking Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall to “push our case” to the state’s deputy premier, health minister and treasurer.
Meanwhile, Mr Marshall, has been relegated to participating in this week’s meeting via phone after health authorities scheduled the gathering on a NSW Parliamentary sitting date: “I’m disappointed they picked a date when there was no chance that I could make it.”