REGION EXPERIENCING A ‘HEALTH REVOLUTION’, MP TELLS PARLIAMENT

Marshall renews calls for additional $30 million for Inverell Hospital

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

 

MEMBER for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has told his parliamentary colleagues that the region is experiencing a “health revolution”, with the Armidale and Inverell communities seeing $92 million in completed and planned hospital upgrades over the next 12 months, with more to come.

 

 

The local MP delivered a Private Member’s Statement on the floor of State Parliament last week, celebrating the hugely successful $60 million redevelopment of Armidale Hospital, imminent construction of a new Inverell Hospital and declaring Moree as the next hospital on his list.

 

In the speech, Mr Marshall said that regional people have high expectations for their health services, with high quality facilities essential for attracting and keeping residents.

 

“There is one thing that country people do not and will not ever accept and that is health services that are subpar or not to the same standards that are expected, demanded and delivered in the cities,” Mr Marshall told Parliament.

 

“They will not lie down and let services be stripped from their communities because they live on the other side of the sandstone curtain. A knee is still a knee, whether it supports its owner in Bondi or in Bingara.”

 

Mr Marshall said the hugely successful $60 million redevelopment of Armidale Hospital “was not the end” of improvements in the Northern Tablelands – with a complete overhaul of Inverell Hospital to break ground in the coming months.

 

“The Inverell hospital has been at the forefront of the minds of Inverell residents since the 1970s, when protests first began about the condition of the facility and the standards of care,” Mr Marshall said.

 

“The tireless advocacy by local clinicians, Inverell Shire Council, the Inverell Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Operation: Operating Room, and passionate locals such as Bob Bensley has finally sealed the deal.”

 

Mr Marshall pledged to continue his advocacy, fighting for an additional $30 million in funding from the NSW Government in the upcoming 2018/19 budget.

 

“I have called on the Government to fast‑track stage two of this project and commit another $30 million to future-proof the hospital by installing a computerised tomography (CT) scanning facility and extra operating theatres,” Mr Marshall said.

“Stage two will also involve moving all the community allied health facilities into the existing hospital building, which will be gutted and refurbished.”

 

“This will ensure that the Inverell community can sustain the health needs of a growing population.”

 

Mr Marshall finished his statement with a nod to Moree’s Hospital, which following a $2 million upgrade and expansion of renal facilities, is next on his list for a major upgrade.

 

“If Inverell can have those facilities, I think Moree can too,” Mr Marshall said.

 

HANSARD EXTRACT

RURAL AND REGIONAL HEALTH SERVICES

Mr ADAM MARSHALL ( Northern TablelandsMinister for Tourism and Major Events, and Assistant Minister for Skills) (16:47): Few things are more important to country people than the availability and quality of their local health facilities. Country people—such as the proud people of the Northern Tablelands electorate—are resilient. They face down droughts, patiently wait for road upgrades, happily commute hundreds of kilometres to play for and support their sporting teams, give up thousands of hours to local community groups and set up thriving businesses in the face of the constant tyranny of distance, all because they know that there is no better place to live in this State than country New South Wales. But there is one thing that country people do not and will not ever accept, and that is health services that are sub par or not to the same standards that are expected, demanded and delivered in the cities. They will not lie down and let services be stripped from their communities because they live on the other side of the sandstone curtain. A knee is still a knee, whether it supports its owner in Bondi or in Bingara. The birth of a child is no less profound because the mother happens to come from Armidale, not Alexandria.

On 7 March this year, I was incredibly proud as doctors began to see patients in the brand‑new emergency department at Armidale Rural Referral Hospital. Nearly five years ago, during my first year in this place as the member for Northern Tablelands, I remember giving speeches and writing press releases celebrating the arrival of a single new doctor at the Armidale hospital. Five years on, the people of Armidale and the surrounding districts are the proud owners of a brand‑new $60 million redeveloped health facility, including a new and expanded emergency department, a new sterilising unit, and a new and expanded critical care unit—and that is just the beginning. This facility will improve and futureproof local health care services, ensuring our community is well served for decades to come.

But this is not the end of the health story for people in the Northern Tablelands. Last week, I was able to stand outside Inverell District Hospital—the facade of which has not changed since 1935—and announce what the people of Inverell and surrounding districts have waited decades to hear: Their local hospital will be completely overhauled. An entirely new hospital build will start within a matter of months, with the redevelopment now out for tender. They will finally get the health facilities that they are entitled to and deserve. The Inverell hospital has been at the forefront of the minds of Inverell residents since the 1970s, when protests first began about the condition of the facility and the standards of care.

Since then, the fight has been relentless not only to prevent the gouging of services, but also to turn the tide and improve the level of services. The so‑called “redevelopment” from 1999 to 2001 turned out to be nothing more than a downgrade with a fresh coat of paint. The community continued to fight for their hospital upgrade, despite bureaucratic resistance—10,000 signatures collected on petitions, 4,500 letters of support delivered to then health Minister Jillian Skinner, and thousands more signatures collected as of last year. The tireless advocacy by local clinicians, Inverell Shire Council, the Inverell Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Operation: Operating Room, and passionate locals such as Bob Bensley has finally sealed the deal.

Inverell District Hospital has $30 million to build a brand‑new facility, including a new operating theatre, a new 38‑bed inpatient facility, an entirely new paediatric unit, a maternity unit, a state‑of‑the‑art birthing suite, three more beds in the new emergency department, a brand‑new and expanded renal dialysis unit, a resuscitation room that is twice as large as the old one, and a brand‑new day surgery unit. The people of the town and district are thrilled, the clinicians are excited and the staff cannot wait. This is no less than what Inverell deserves. The town has boomed for the past five years and now it is getting health facilities for the next few decades.

But what excites me is that the story does not end there. I have called on the Government to fast‑track stage two of this project and commit another $30 million to futureproof the hospital by installing a computerised tomography [CT] scanning facility and extra operating theatres. Stage two will also involve moving all the community allied health facilities into the existing hospital building, which will be gutted and refurbished. This will ensure that the Inverell community can sustain the health needs of a growing population. But this is not all; the health revolution in the Northern Tablelands rolls on. Moree—150 kilometres to the west—is next. If Inverell can have those facilities, I think Moree can too.

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