Ballina Hospital patients are set to benefit from a new, state-of-the-art operating theatre complex and medical imaging upgrades under a $7.35 million redevelopment, the government says.
But the move comes amidst concern that Byron Central Hospital still lacks operating facilities and an attempt to induce a private firm to stump up the cash for a theatre there has failed.
The upgrades are not before time either: as Echonetdaily revealed in an exclusive report, the hospital’s cramped waiting room was crowded to capacity on New Year’s Day 2017, with some patients having to wait up to six hours to be seen and others lying on the floor and the concrete path outside.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Northern NSW Parliamentary Secretary Ben Franklin have announced the start of demolition works for Stage 2 of the redevelopment, which has been jointly funded by the commonwealth and state governments.
‘Modern facilities are key to ensuring our clinicians and hospital staff can continue to provide the high-quality health care that our local communities deserve,’ Mr Franklin said.
‘Stage 2 of this significant redevelopment will pave the way for upgrades to surgical services at Ballina District Hospital, with a new operating theatre and a new recovery area,’ he added.
Mr Hazzard said the Northern NSW the building program was just part of ‘several new and expanded health services either completed or near completion’.
‘This significant upgrade for Ballina District Hospital comes on top of the investment of more than $320 million in the Lismore Base Hospital redevelopment, with the project right on schedule to deliver brand new equipment for central sterilisation services to support the fantastic, new theatre complex at Lismore’ Mr Hazzard said.
But there are concerns that the new Byron Central Hospital appears to be missing out, with the Health Services Union last week accusing the state government of ‘pursuing privatisation by stealth’ by seeking to contract out management of its yet-to-be-built operating theatres to a private company.
But Northern NSW Health District chief executive, Wayne Jones, told Echonetdaily a recent tender process inviting expressions of interest by private providers to provide day surgery had failed to provide any ‘compliant submissions’.
Construction will soon begin on new back-of-house services at Ballina, including a loading dock and storage space (including space for biomedical equipment testing), plant room, maintenance office and workshop, and a new medical records department.
The full scope of works for the Ballina District Hospital, to be completed by late 2018, also includes stores and utilities, IT and office spaces and staff amenities.
Stage 1 was completed in early 2017, with significant medical imaging upgrades, including a new CT scanner and ultrasound services.