Surgical services for new Byron hospital in doubt

A schematic design of the new $80 million Byron Central Hospital.

A schematic design of the new $80 million Byron Central Hospital.

Hans Lovejoy

Concerns over a lack of operating theatres in the planned Byron Hospital have been hosed down by NSW Health.

In a letter to the NSW department of planning and environment on 23 August, the Byron Shire Health Services Community Action Group said it was ‘concerned that surgical service/day surgery is not included in the list of services being offered in the development application.’

A community committee spokesperson told Echonetdaily they had been ‘diligent in trying to get an ironclad commitment that there will be a theatre facility, but have been unsuccessful’.

But a Health Infrastructure spokesperson said the project team is ‘undertaking a market-sounding process to determine whether there is interest from private providers to deliver surgical services at the new hospital’.

‘Should a private operator be interested in providing surgical services, public patients will have access to these services through an agreement reached between the private operator and Northern NSW Local Health District,’ the spokesperson told Echonetdaily.

‘Local health districts across the state work with private providers in their catchments to ensure a full suite of health services are provided to local patients. This includes purchasing services for public patients in private facilities.

‘It is anticipated the new Byron Central Hospital will provide emergency services, acute medical beds, low-risk maternity services following the same model currently delivered at Mullumbimby, a new 20-bed mental health unit and x-ray and medical imaging facilities.’

Meanwhile, health minister Jillian Skinner’s media adviser told Echonetdaily that agreements between private and public health providers have been in existence for a long time and ‘would also have occurred under the former government.’

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