24 April 2024

Expanded services and 'higher quality health care' to come from new hospital, community meeting told

| Claire Sams
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Dr Michael Holland.

Member for Bega Doctor Michael Holland says keeping the Batemans Bay emergency department open would not improve the region’s healthcare system. Photo: Michael Holland.

A community forum has heard that closing a South Coast emergency department would mean better health outcomes, according to a local politician, but a group of residents is still pushing for it to stay open.

The Don’t Close Batemans Bay Hospital Emergency Department group has been calling on the NSW Government to keep the Batemans Bay emergency department operational following the opening of Eurobodalla Regional Hospital.

The new hospital will be located in Moruya, about 20 minutes south of Batemans Bay. The development will also see the emergency department at Batemans Bay Hospital close.

As part of their campaign, the group gathered thousands of signatures on a petition to keep the emergency department open, which was to be presented at a meeting on Monday night (22 April).

Speaking to the meeting, Member for Bega Doctor Michael Holland said the clinical services plan containing the new hospital would deliver a higher level of service for Eurobodalla Shire.

“I will tell you though that the clinical services plan which has been in planning for over six years is safe and will give you an improved level of services which you have never had before,” he said.

“It will be safe. It will be equitable. It will be efficient. And it will provide higher quality health care to everyone in the Eurobodalla.

“Keeping Batemans Bay or Moruya hospital open will maintain the status quo of a divided level two and level three service.”

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Dr Holland said a level four designation for the new Eurobodalla Regional Hospital would mean people could seek an expanded range of care, beyond what a level two or three facility could offer.

“There is no point in closing a level two hospital and a level three hospital and opening another level three hospital,” he said.

“This is what will happen by keeping Batemans Bay emergency department and Moruya emergency department open.

“Our community needs a health system that provides definitive care at one site.”

Dr Holland said the lack of some health services at the level two emergency department at Batemans Bay – such as no on-site pathology, CT scanning or an operating theatre for major surgery – would mean it would be limited in how it could serve the population.

“It [staying open] will not improve the health system in the Eurobodalla and you will not attain a level four service,” he said.

“And a level four service will save lives. It will provide a higher level and wider range of specialist services and will keep our residents closer to home for many previously unavailable services.

“Already 46 per cent of our population does not receive its treatment locally.”

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On Monday evening, Dr Holland said Batemans Bay residents could still call triple zero in an emergency, seeking transport to the new Moruya hospital.

“People underestimate the current capacity of our professional paramedic services,” he said.

“They are highly trained health professionals.

“They keep people alive from their home or accident until they receive hospital treatment.”

The petition from the Don’t Close Batemans Bay Hospital Emergency Department group was received by NSW Opposition Leader Mark Speakman.

The group’s founder, Peter Ryan, told Region the decision to present the petition to Mr Speakman was made because Dr Holland had previously spoken out against it.

“We already knew that Dr Holland didn’t support the petition – and he actually confirmed that when we addressed the audience [from] the stage,” he said.

“Out of respect to Dr Holland, I stated to him that we knew he didn’t support the petition and accordingly didn’t want to put him in the awkward position of having to present something that he didn’t support.

“I invited the Leader of the Opposition, Mark Speakman, to come forward and accept the petition.”

Further information on the Eurobodalla Regional Hospital can be found online.

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