Manning Hospital Medical Staff Council (MHMSC) does not support the push for a new public hospital at Forster being driven by Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead.
Mr Bromhead is rallying public support for his petition to the NSW government that “calls on the government to build a public hospital in the Forster-Tuncurry area to provide an emergency department, medical imaging, ambulatory care and inpatient units to over 20,000 residents who call the Great Lakes home.”
The petition asks “the Legislative Assembly to commit funding for the construction of a public hospital for our community.”
The petition is popular with voters in the Myall Lakes electorate, with 9500 signatures reportedly collected.
However, it has failed to secure the critical support of professionals working to deliver health services in the district.
MHMSC acted to discuss Mr Bromhead’s proposal and public petition campaign at its October 30 meeting and unanimously voted to not support it.
Staff council meetings require a minimum of 11 members and according to a medical practitioner at the meeting, “there were significantly more in attendance than the required quorum and they represented a diverse number of specialty backgrounds”.
MHMSC chair Dr Sesh Narasimhan said: “After detailed discussion, it was unanimously decided to not support Mr Bromhead’s proposal for the following reasons:
- Opening a second public hospital will cause dilution of services which is not ideal for the community.
- There has been no consultation with the administration of Manning Hospital, any of the specialists working in the region or the area health board regarding opening a second public hospital in Forster.
- Currently, the Manning Hospital is under-resourced, underfunded and will need drastic improvement in its infrastructure as part of the hospital redevelopment process. It would be important to redirect all available resources and funding to improve Manning Hospital.
Dr Narasimhan acted to inform Mr Bromhead of the MHMSC decision in an email on November 5, adding, “I look forward to working with you to help procure the much needed resources for our (Manning) hospital to help serve our community.”
The MHMSC is the voice of all doctors, staff specialists, visiting medical officers and dentists who are contracted to Manning Hospital.
The role of the MHMSC “is to advocate for medical staff, to improve services and care for patients and to provide the executive of the hospital and local health district with advice relating to the provision of medical services,” according to the NSW Medical Staff Executive Council.
According to HNELHD, the MHMSC is “a mechanism for senior medical staff to have an input into hospital clinical process.”
The MHMSC decision to not support Mr Bromhead’s proposal is the second negative reaction from a key stakeholder in the delivery of public health services.
Hunter New England Local Health District chief executive officer, Michael DiRienzo recently told the Great Lakes Advocate “at this stage our indications don’t show that we need to build a public hospital in Forster.”
He also revealed the absence of consultation with Mr Bromhead on the proposal, stating he had “no specific discussions with Stephen about Forster”.
Mr DiRienzo suggested future development of public health services in the area could come from increasing services and access to Forster Private Hospital, which is operated by Healthe Care, Australia’s third largest corporate private hospital operator.
The Great Lakes Advocate asked Mr Bromhead three questions for response on the three issues raised by the MHMSC.
- Why did you not consult “with the administration of Manning Hospital, any of the specialists working in the region or the area health board regarding opening a second public hospital in Forster”?
- What is your counter claim to the staff council’s assertion that “opening a public hospital will causes dilution of services”?
- How do you intend to argue the case to the State Government that the Myall Lakes electorate should be allocated funding to continue the Manning Hospital redevelopment and for a new public hospital in Forster?
The following is Mr Bromhead’s response: ‘Myall Lakes Health Services’.
“Manning Hospital is currently undergoing Stage 1 redevelopment with $40 million invested into a new multi deck car park, The Nita Reed Dialysis Unit a Cancer Care Unit, 6 consult rooms for visiting specialists and a fit out of the expanded Medical Imaging Department and new CT, ultrasound and fluoroscopy equipment, as well as improvements to patient waiting areas.
As reported in The Manning River Times on Friday 2 November prior to The Liberal National Governments election in 2011 the Manning Hospital “historically relied on locum doctors, rotating medical staffs that were still in training, or doctors with a general medical focus.”
Since elected to Government I have overseen a 25% increase in recurrent funding to Manning Hospital and over 30 new staff have joined the Hospital team, this year we have made new medical appointments including 2 Intensive care specialists, 2nd Oncologist, Rehabilitation specialist, Psychiatrist and a new Director of Emergency.
Over the last 12 months NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Health Minister Brad Hazzard have all visited the Hospital and as the Premier indicated during her visit on 1st June Stage 2 planning is underway and I am continuing my discussions to lock in funding for these works.
On 15 March 2018 I took to the floor of the NSW Parliament and launched a campaign calling on the NSW Government to build a Public Hospital to service the Great Lakes region.
Since March my campaign has grown in momentum with volunteers taking to local supermarkets, market stalls and many local clubs and businesses gathering over 9500 signatures on the community petition.
During my address to parliament I spoke of Karen Ridley of Smiths Lake, who, over the Christmas holidays, had her niece Renee and four children visiting from Sydney.
During the stay Renee's six-month-old son fell ill. Renee tried to find an after-hours doctor but there were none. She had no other choice but to travel to the Manning Base Hospital, which is a 62-kilometre road trip taking an hour.
Any additional investment into public health services for the Forster / Tuncurry communities will only enhance health services offered across the region.”