Myall Lakes MP and Nationals candidate Stephen Bromhead speaks about the need for as public hospital at Forster
Twelve months ago I launched a community campaign and petition from the floor of Parliament calling on the NSW Government to fund a public hospital in the Forster-Tuncurry area.
I had long advocated for greater access to public health facilities for the Great Lakes community, and already had success in gaining public recovery beds, renal dialysis and oncology at the Cape Hawke Community Hospital.
However, we have an ageing population, a growing population and our community welcomes over 600,000 visitors a year. It was clear that it was beyond time for the Great Lakes community to have its own public hospital and emergency department.
So I launched the petition, did the hard work of earning support and getting the 10,000 signatures on the page, and then I went through the formality of lodging it with Parliament.
But this petition was about more than going through the motions. It was about showing the weight of public support behind the lobbying I had already undertaken with the Deputy Premier and Health Minister to secure this funding.
Having the backing of the local community via our petition armed me with more political muscle, and last month our campaign was rewarded with the Health Minister announcing we would begin the planning, design and delivery of this new hospital.
It was no small feat, but it was made possible because of a lot of hard work – not just from me but from everyone in the community who has added their voice to the chorus calling for this hospital.
This is on top of the announcement for Stage 2 redevelopment for Manning Hospital in Taree, creating expanded inpatient accommodation, refurbished operating theatres, a new critical care unit and new recovery beds and a new day surgery. And we will also introduce a new transit lounge to provide an area where discharged patients can relax while waiting for transport home or to another facility, improving bed access in the emergency department.
I’m aware that there are those out there who will try to play politics and say that we need to dream small and make do with just one hospital, but when has that way of thinking ever advanced our community? I believe, as do the people of Forster-Tuncurry, that we need both a hospital for the Great Lakes, and a first-class major hospital, a network of public health to meet the growing needs of patients across the region.