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Push for answers on hospital’s future

Public Health First were asked to meet with General Manager of Bowral and District Hospital and Steve Hall Project Manager, Health Infrastructure of the redevelopment of the hospital late in February.

The news was not a reveal of the Clinical Services Plan but a repeat of something we knew last year yet with a twist.

PHF were led through a scenario whereby there would be ‘a greater sharing of resources’ with Ramsay Health Care whereby Ramsay would pay for the build of the two new public operating theatres.

This is a sharing of resources apparently not a privatisation!

Quite a new concept in the opinion of PHF.

Does this mean Ramsay - because they had paid for the internal construction of two theatres, within a public hospital –  would charge the hospital when public patients needed an operation.

Ramsay Health Care does not operate it’s theatres on weekends. They are closed. Having two theatres that they own within the public hospital would allow operations to be carried out seven days a week. 

Would RHC then be required to hire the public hospital staff to assist at weekends if the theatres were to be used? 

A public private partnership such as this is contractual and usually expires after 20 years. Generally, the government buys back the facility. Operating theatres, considering today’s fast-paced changes in medical technology could well be out of date, leaving the public hospital in its present state.

The expression of interest to RHC to foot the bill for constuction of new operating theatres is borne out of a need to save money. Steven Hall, Health Infrastructure, said that the millions to be saved from this proposal would allow for the Emergency and High Dependency Units to be upgraded.

New South Wales presently has a 99year lease on the poles and wires estimated to achieve $15b  for the state. The historic rows of town houses in The Rocks pocketed close to $300M. They are now looking to sell the Lands Office for millions!  

Premier Berejiklian, in her acceptance speech said, the government ‘has billions to spend’ and wants to support community needs. Our community has to demand greater funding for our hospital.

At the March 13 public meeting it was made clear that the $50m for Bowral Hospital was to erect a new building. This new building would provide 10 more beds, taking the bed count to 46. NSW Health has a projected bed count of 136 beds by 2022.

Where are the rest of the funds coming from to achieve this number of beds?

At the same public meeting Anthony Manning, Health Infrastructure, stated that the design of the new build would be such that it would be flexible; able to accommodate any type of clinical services. PHF believes that this does not seem plausible as there are set dimensions for specific areas within a hospital and these have to be followed.

Further to this, the SWSLHD information sheet, made available at the community meeting, indicated that there would be more single patient rooms with ensuites. These rooms will be a welcomed addition to the redevelopment but will require much more space.

Again, our community was informed that the redevelopment project, ‘is currently in the planning phase…and RHC’s expression of interest is being assessed.’  Further on it stated that, ‘engaging with the community is an important aspect of… project.’

It is mandatory, required by law, to have community representation in the initial planning stages of a project such as this. It is also mandatory to consult with the community at all stages through the project.

Public Health First, when they meet with the Minister of Health Brad Hazzard on March 21, will again raise the issue of representation and consultation. It was clear from the public meeting that residents did not feel that the information sessions were providing them with answers. 

People want to know what clinical services will be available at Bowral Hospital. Will these services be of the same standard that they are now or will they be somewhat improved so that the referral of patients to city hospitals will decline? 

Again, there was a genuine concern that the aging population would not be any better served by the redevelopment in its present form. Another issue to discuss with the Minister.

The community is still calling on the local member for Wollondilly to come good on his promise to obtain greater funding for the hospital. $50m is for the new building and presumably a partial demolition of the old site.

Are we going to end up with a shell and no state-of –the-art medical equipment to fill it? 

Maybe there is another part to a the public private partnership.

Edna Carmichael

Spokesperson for PHF

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