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December 1, 2021

Tweed Hospital at breaking point: Greens

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North coast Greens MP Dawn Walker is accusing the major parties of playing politics over the Tweed Hospital. Photo supplied
North coast Greens MP Dawn Walker is accusing the major parties of playing politics over the Tweed Hospital. Photo supplied

Following revelations that local patients are being forced to go across the border to Queensland to access health services because Tweed Hospital is at breaking point, Greens NSW Health spokesperson, Dawn Walker, has called on both the Liberal-Nationals and Labor to stop using Tweed Hospital as a ‘political football’.

‘Enough is enough. Tweed Hospital is facing a growing funding crisis and it’s time the Nationals delivered on their promised funding of $48 million to start upgrading the facility,’ Ms Walker said.

‘Tweed Hospital cares for people right across the north coast; it should be a first-class facility with a new emergency department, refurbished wards and specialist units; not left to deteriorate so it can be wheeled out each election for politicians to make unfilled promises.

‘As a Tweed local, I’ve seen the community’s calls for more funding to address the looming health services crisis ignored by governments of both persuasions for many years,’ she said.

Doctors speak out

Ms Walker’s comments follow a call by the hospital’s medical council for urgent expansion of Tweed’s emergency department and operating theatres.

Medical council co-chair Michael Linley-Jones said this week that ‘we are all in disbelief that we are still waiting for the services that are needed for the local area to treat our patients.’

Dr Linley-Jones said that the ED was constantly overstretched, in part because of a dramatic increase in the number of mental health patients who took up beds because doctors had nowhere else to send them.

‘The minister has spoken to us and said he is interested in upgrading the Tweed Hospital but he is still unable to make a commitment.

‘In 2010 started we developing a clinical services plan. Many of those services were supposed to have been completed – the buildings were supposed to have been completed in 2017 and sadly we find… they haven’t even been started, or haven’t even been planned for,’ he told ABC local radio.

Promises not delivered

‘In December 2014 there were pre-election promises made, of which none have been delivered.’

He said that before the last election the hospital had been asked to nominate its most urgent priorities, which were to increase the size of the emergency department, double the number of operating theatres, increase intensive care by 30 per cent and increase the number of cancer treatment chairs.

‘The initial costing for those services was $48 million, and that was announced in grand fanfare as an election commitment,’ Dr Linley-Jones said.

But he added it was subsequently discovered the real cost would be closer to three times that amount.

‘Since then the process of enhancing the hospital has got stuck. There are no plans in place and as far as I’m aware there are no imminent announcements and the medical staff are very concerned,’ Dr Linley Jones said.

Taxpayers’ money: minister

Newly appointed health minister Brad Hazzard, on a lightning visit to Tweed Hospital last month, surprised locals with the suggestion that it could be completely rebuilt on a greenfield site.

But the minister has since refused to be drawn on if and when money for the overdue upgrades at the present hospital would be made available.

‘The question is, how much taxpayers would want us to spend before we finalise whether it would be better to build a completely new hospital?’ he asked rhetorically when quizzed on the subject earlier this week.

‘The balance here is, if we are going to go with the greenfield site option… then that’s probably about half a billion dollars. The question then arises are we going to spend another $120-$130 million of taxpayers’ money in the interim, or how soon can we actually get this up?’ he mused in an interview on ABC radio.

Can’t be trusted: Walker

Ms Walker said successive Labor and LNP governments had ‘shown they cannot be trusted.’

‘Lismore Hospital is undergoing an upgrade, Coffs Harbour has been undergoing an upgrade, Byron Hospital has been re-built; it’s time Tweed Hospital got the attention it deserves.

‘Hospital funding is too important to be left to the politics of the day. The Tweed community wants a decent hospital, not border-hopping to access quality health services,’ Ms Walker said.


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  1. upgrade Murwillumbah Hospital … take the pressure off Tweed and save lives, at the v least reduce the painful commute to the coast for patients. And yes we are patients not clients.


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