It’s just over 12 months since the NSW Premier and Member for Bega were presented with a petition of over 3,000 signatures calling for ‘One New Eurobodalla Hospital’.
There and then on a windy afternoon on the banks of the Moruya River, Gladys Berejiklian and Andrew Constance committed a Coalition Government to doing just that.
“We are looking forward to getting cracking and building this,” Ms Berejiklian said.
However, many of the 3,000 people who supported the original push are signing a new petition, frustrated that not much seems to have happened since that cold day at the end of October 2018.
Long-serving Moruya Obstetrician, Dr Michael Holland is the heart, brains and drive behind the One New Eurobodalla Hospital campaign.
“At this time, there has been no announcement of the site of the new hospital and, more disturbing, no date for the commencement of the project,” a frustrated Dr Holland says.
“The Eurobodalla Health Services Clinical Services Plan was submitted to NSW Health in July, 2019.
“Improvement of services needs to be provided immediately within the existing infrastructure as requested by the Petition to the NSW Legislative Assembly and as recommended by the NSW Health Agency for Clinical Innovation.
“The commencement of work on the single new Eurobodalla hospital needs to occur as soon as possible.”
The new petition launched by Dr Holland via Change.org describes the current health care situation in the Eurobodalla as “unethical”.
“The population of the Eurobodalla exceeds that of neighbouring regions whose hospitals already provide level 4 services,” Dr Holland says.
“Eurobodalla Health Services provides medical, surgical, emergency and maternity services to more people than neighbouring hospitals which currently provide higher level 4 services.
“It is an ethical issue of justice and autonomy to provide these equal services to the population of the Eurobodalla.”
Dr Holland suggests that the region, can’t wait until 2023 for construction of the new facility to start. It’s a point echoed by many who have signed the new petition.
Paul Davies writes, “No paediatrician within a two hour drive! Every time we present to Batemans Bay, we either get a helicopter ride or a road trip in an ambulance. Surely it’s cheaper just to get things sorted?”
Phil Barnes writes, “My daughter recently broke her arm in the shire, and we had to travel to Bega for the fracture clinic.”
Chris Marley, “We were assured it would happen, Andrew Constance and we need this hospital badly! When will it happen?”
Maddi Laws writes, “My 6 month old son is sick and traveling from Moruya to Canberra every other week is just a joke. For a little boy to be in the car for 4-6 hrs a day and then the cost of fuel and food it’s really not fair.”
Speaking with Region Media, Andrew Constance acknowledges peoples frustration and enthusiasm to see the project start.
“The Clinical Services Plan is now sitting with the Ministry and I am pursuing the Health Minister for final approval on that,” Mr Constance says.
“You need that plan to inform the design of the hospital before we move into the next phase.
“In the new year, we will be forming a community advisory body which will have expert representation from across the shire.
“I know everyone would like to see this hospital built next week, but that’s not how this works.”
A location for the $150 million facility is still undecided with the focus to date on the Clinical Services Plan.
In terms of improving health services in the meantime, Mr Constance says, “Brad Hazzard [NSW Health Minister] is well aware of the need to broaden local services and any issues presented I will ensure they are put on his desk.”
Dr Holland says the lack of progress is concerning, “we need the government to prioritise these actions with a greater degree of focus and urgency to improve our faltering and compromised regional health services with immediate effect and going forward.”
Dr Holland plans on raising the issue at the upcoming public meeting of the Southern NSW Local Health District, which will be held at 2 pm at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club on Thursday, November 14.