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Byron Shire
May 16, 2022

No helipad for Byron Central Hospital

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Aerial view of the new Byron Central Hospital. Photo NSW Health
Aerial view of the new Byron Central Hospital. Health bureaucrats have confirmed there is no room for a helipad on the site. Photo NSW Health

Health bureaucrats in charge of the new Byron Central Hospital have confirmed that the new $88m facility will not have a helipad.

It follows an enquiry from Mullumbimby Creek Nick Schaefer, who told The Echo that in 1992 his then four-year-old son ‘became desperately ill with a severe respiratory condition, later diagnosed as Hibs’.

‘He was almost unable to breathe when we took him down from our home in upper Mullum Creek to the local hospital in Mullumbimby. A surgeon from Byron Bay stood by, prepared to do a tracheotomy.

‘The helicopter was summoned and landed at the hospital heliport. At midnight he was flown to the Brisbane Mater hospital ICU. My wife and I travelled by car and arrived several hours later. I had never seen him so ill with tubes and hoses connected to his small body.

‘Why is there now, 24 years later, no heliport planned for the new central hospital at Ewingsdale?

‘According to a staff member who lives adjacent, the area is rarely fog-bound because of its elevated position. Putting a heliport there seems like two problems could be solved at once.’

In reply, chief of staff of Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD) Wayne Jones told The Echo, ‘There are no plans for a helipad at the Byron Central Hospital (BCH). If a helicopter, rather than an ambulance, was tasked to attend a patient at the scene of an accident, any patients would be taken to a trauma centre such as Lismore Base Hospital or The Tweed Hospital. If patients at the BCH required transfer they would be transported north by ambulance.’

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  1. Yes Damon, and our grandparents and greater got to hospital by horse and cart!
    Our society has has seen some improvement in transport, technology and not to mention, deliverable expectations since then. A helipad today for a modern hospital is simply part of the “furniture”. Like an ambulance dock. Even the ‘old’ hospital had one!
    It should be inconceivable for our area to be so ‘short changed’ on such a basic issue. We are capable of delivering the best in acute care. And it should be available. Two patient transfers, and a 30-40 minute ride to a ‘trauma centre’ followed possibly by another transfer – to a helicopter is well and truly second best.
    Perhaps another indication of what happens when your local state member is not of the major Government or Opposition parties.

  2. What if the ambulance station is empty because the crews are busy elsewhere? No vehicle may be available. If a helicopter can’t land at Byron Hospital then the patient can’t be airlifted and has to rely on the vagaries of the road transport system. What if a patient has to be taken to Gold Coast or Brisbane Hospitals because of the level of trauma. The chopper has a doctor but not the ambulance. The response by Wayne Jones is pathetic.


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