Letters to the Editor

Not all good news

The announcement by Mr Jai Rowell of the scrapping the public private partnership (PPP) for Bowral Hospital is not universally applauded.  The negative campaign of misinformation by a vocal minority who do not work at Bowral Hospital around this issue succeeded in stifling sensible discussion on any service collaboration between Bowral Hospital and the Southern Highlands Private Hospital.

Many of us who work in Bowral Hospital are dismayed by this decision, acutely aware of the serious shortcomings in the $50 million standalone redevelopment plan.  An appropriate redevelopment has been conservatively costed at $75 million. Although a new hospital is welcome, the standalone plan does not include an integrated Emergency Department or Maternity Unit.

The standalone plan, reduces the number of Paediatric beds. Nor does it increase the capacity of medical beds, surgical beds and commissioned operating theatres. Notably, 2.5 operating theatres is insufficient for our present needs, and because of the small pool of employed theatre nurses it will perpetuate the chronic shortages of theatre nurses to cover a 24 hour roster, 365 days a year.

The standalone plan downgrades the High Dependency Unit to a "close observation" unit. It will not enhance medical staff shortages at Bowral Hospital. In fact, 2 senior anaesthetists have now resigned as a direct result of this decision.

Is this a hospital for the future?  Mr Rowell and his government need to deliver to our community a new hospital that will meet the present and future needs of our community.  The current funding is inadequate, and so will be the new hospital unless funding is appropriately increased.

Dr Peter Macken

Chair, Medical Staff Council Bowral Hospital

Vale Charles Widdy

I first came across Charles Widdy in the late 90s as he perambulated the pavement of Queen Street Woollahra with measured gait, passing my interior design showroom on the way up and then down again.

Immaculately dressed, wearing a pith helmet with the panache of absolute ownership, this memory stayed with me until I met him again in Bowral several years later. We had both by then moved to live in the Highlands, indeed as Charles dryly remarked, half the Eastern Suburbs soon followed.

In time we became good friends and many a lunch was enjoyed together with his beautiful wife Robbie over consular champagne and ambassadorial conversation.

As Charles had spent two terms as mayor of Woollahra this was par for the course.

In the years that followed Charles became a well known figure along Bong Bong Street as he strolled his new territory, often stopping to network business opportunities with store proprietors, always with an eye to exciting developments for the town.

He counted the great and the luminary amongst his friends and it was a measure of the man that he also gave his time daily in the last few years of his life to the Hospice Shop. There was a quiet generosity to Charles that is seen in the best of gentlemen.

Very sadly we have lost his handsome visage from our landscape as cancer claimed him nearly a fortnight ago. Or in Charle’s case, it would have to be called The Big C of course. We saluted Charles Widdy’s life last Thursday at his funeral service, and as we watched his casket moving away in a gleaming black 1926 Rolls Royce Phantom followed by a 1950 Mark V1 Bentley, the thought came to me that very probably my friend was there standing to one side, with his usual sartorial splendour, the one hand holding a flute of champagne, the other resting upon a silver topped cane.

Ha! he’d be saying, those angels need smartening up, think I’ll design some tailor made shirts for them… See you dear Charles, go sort out the wardrobe up there.

Alexandra Springett


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