New NSW health minister Brad Hazzard used his visit to the Tweed Hospital today to float the idea of a ‘greenfield’ site for a new replacement hospital for the region, similar to the recently completed Byron Central Hospital.
In an interview with ABC radio this morning, Mr Hazzard said, ‘That’s certainly part of what the hospital management has been looking at.
‘Nobody would deny that when you rebuild on an existing site it’s often more expensive,’ he added.
‘Sometimes it’s easier just to start from scratch,’ Mr Hazzard said.
His comments have followed a series of scathing attacks on the state of north coast hospitals from ALP shadow health minister Walt Secord and Richmond’s federal Labor MP Justine Elliot.
Mr Secord told Echonetdaily Mr Hazzrd’s remarks were a ‘bolt from the blue’.
‘I note that Mr Hazzard is new to the role, but I hope this is not another cruel trick to divert medical staff and patients from the need for improvements at Tweed Hospital – and its original promise,’ he said.
‘Sadly, the National Party is getting up to their old tricks and this could be a stalling tactic,’ he added.
Mr Secord said The Tweed Hospital was under enormous pressure. Earlier this year, he had met with doctors to discuss the hospital and the need for improvements.
Earlier today Ms Elliot slammed the federal National Party for failing to deliver additional funding for the hospital, promised in the lead-up the last election.
Today’s announcement follows a series of complaints about understaffing of hospitals on the north coast, including Ballina Hospital, where a patient was found lying on the concrete outside on New Year’s Day, and the recently completed Byron Central Hospital, where a patient with bowel obstruction waited 10 hours for an ambulance transfer.
Tweed Hospital one of state’s busiest
Mr Secord provided Echonetdaily with the following data regarding the Tweed Hospital.
Tweed has one of the busiest emergency departments outside Sydney – with more than 50,000 patients a year.
The independent Bureau of Health Information reported that one in five patients (or 20.3 per cent) waited longer than four hours – an increase over the previous year where 18.1 per cent waited.
The most recent data showed that there were 906 patients waiting for elective surgery including:
- 257 for orthopaedic surgery;
- 226 for ear, nose and throat surgery;
- 169 for gynecological procedures;
- 78 for knee replacements; 50 for hip replacements;
- 53 for tonsillectomies; and
- 18 for gall bladder removals.
The average wait for:
- Tonsillectomy – 279 days;
- Ear, nose and throat surgery – 193 days;
- Gynecological – 57 days;
- Orthopaedic surgery – 74 days;
- Gall bladder – 58 days;
- Hip replacement – 59 days; and
- Knee replacement – 81 days.