22 April 2024

Thousands sign petition for emergency department to stay in South Coast town

| Claire Sams
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Doctor measuring blood pressure of overweight woman in hospital

Batemans Bay residents have raised the alarm over the closure of their emergency department. Photo: File.

A petition to keep a South Coast emergency department open has garnered more than 18,000 signatures, but the local MP says its closure won’t affect patient health.

The new Eurobodalla Regional Hospital will be located in Moruya, approximately 20 minutes south of Batemans Bay. As part of plans for the project, the emergency department at Batemans Bay Hospital is set to close.

The Don’t Close Batemans Bay Hospital Emergency Department community group is calling on the NSW Government to keep the facility open.

Member for Bega, Labor MP Dr Michael Holland said he was confident the planned closure would not affect healthcare outcomes.

“There are some alarming comments from people advocating for the petition that people will die if the Batemans Bay [emergency department] was closed, or that if you had a major accident, you wouldn’t be able to be treated adequately,” Dr Holland said.

“I refute the issue that people will die and our health service will be worse because of the closing of the Batemans Bay emergency department.”

Dr Holland said the hospital opening as a Level Four facility would mean people could seek an expanded range of treatments and more resources in the new hospital.

“We know that by combining the resources of these two hospitals to build a Level Four health facility at Moruya – which is closer to the centre of the [Eurobodalla] Shire – you will get a Level Four emergency department with doctors, nurses and technology that are far above what are available already in either emergency departments,” he said.

“That in itself will save lives.

“The issue is we won’t get Level 4 emergency department in the Eurobodalla – and therefore, no intensive care service or all the other services that are present – by trying to run two emergency departments separately.”

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In recent months, the Don’t Close Batemans Bay Hospital Emergency Department campaign has been gathering signatures in a bid to keep the department open.

The group’s founder, Peter Ryan, told Region the group had gathered around 18,000 signatures.

“It just doesn’t stack up to move an emergency department out of Batemans Bay just to achieve increased medical facilities sometime in the future,” he said.

“[The existing facility is] quite modern, it’s functional, and it’s saving lives.”

Mr Ryan said the closure would affect health outcomes for the town’s residents and visitors because of the travel time to Moruya and the region’s large population.

“We think we’ve got a common sense approach to this,” he said.

“Batemans Bay has a population of over 19,000 people and has huge growth expected.

“People in the area could have up to a 90-minute delay to get to the new hospital and that’s just not acceptable.”

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Dr Holland said the emergency department at Batemans Bay would only close once the new hospital is open, with the existing Urgent Care Clinic at the site to stay open.

“I’m working with the Minister for Health [Ryan Park] and the Department of Health to expand that urgent care model where there will be a doctor and a nurse available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in Batemans Bay,” he said.

“[There will just not be] an emergency department where an ambulance will take patients.”

Mr Ryan said the clinic would not be enough to replace the emergency department.

“It takes away all those minor things – like sore throats and the scratches – out of doctor’s surgeries,” he said.

“It will not deal with any of those life-threatening situations.”

The petition from the Don’t Close Batemans Bay Hospital Emergency Department community group will be received on Monday (22 April) during a meeting at Batemans Bay Soldiers Club from 5:30 pm.

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

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cannedbeeria4:01 pm 22 Apr 24

Interesting conundrum there. IS Batemans Bay the geographical centre of the Eurobodalla? Which means the people requiring emergency treatment in the South of Eurobodalla will have less travel time with the new level 4 hospital in Moruya.
But, is Batemans Bay the population centre of Eurobodalla. That would be an interesting statistic!
Currently, where are serious crash victims taken? Batemans Bay or north? I am talking about crash victims on the Princes Highway North of the Bay, and/or the Kings Highway.
And what of patients in need of more intensive care than the Batemans Bay emergency department could currently manage? Fly to Canberra? Then it would be preferable to take them to the new level 4 hospital at Moruya.

Food for thought.

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