Member for the Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead, has today, November 27, pledged that the delivery of a public hospital for Forster Tuncurry will begin in this term of government.
Asked by the Great Lakes Advocate whether building would begin on the facility during his current four-year tenure, Mr Bromhead said: "Absolutely. There's no doubt about it."
"We will at least commence the hospital in this term of government," he said.
"I'd love to see it completed in this term of government but obviously I can't guarantee it will be absolutely completed."
The comments came after NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay visited Forster Tuncurry on Monday and called for Mr Bromhead to provide further information to the public on the hospital he had promised the people of the Great Lakes.
"There are so many unanswered questions and I don't think Mr Bromhead should be allowed to get away with simply making that claim there is a hospital coming when there's no detail whatsoever attached to it," Ms McKay said.
Mr Bromhead's words also stood in contrast to those provided to the Great Lakes Advocate by the office of NSW health minister Brad Hazzard in October.
"There was no election commitment beyond commencing planning for a future hospital," a spokesperson for Mr Hazzard said.
Asked about this anomaly, as well as a Facebook post he published just days before the 2019 State election saying that Mr Hazzard had announced the coalition government would begin "the planning, design and delivery of this new hospital in the next term of government", Mr Bromhead said there was no doubt he had the support of his party.
"I've had numerous conversations with the premier, the deputy premier and the minister," he said.
"They all agree that we don't plan to plan, we plan to deliver, and that's what this is all about."
Mr Bromhead said the clinical services plan currently being undertaken by Johnstaff would most likely be completed within six months and would provide the information necessary to move forward on the project.
"The clinical services plan will identify what needs to be in the hospital, it will then identify whether it's going to be a brand new green-filled site or whether or not some other arrangement can be made," he said.
According to Mr Bromhead, these arrangements may include the public use of facilities at Forster Private Hospital combined with the addition of an emergency department.
"Whatever we do it will include an emergency (department)," he said.
However, while Mr Bromhead is insisting on a hospital being delivered in this term, his critics remain unconvinced.
"I think what you will find is there will be nothing that will happen up until 2023; just before the election they will make another commitment, perhaps it'll be money to purchase the land or identifying a site, but I think the people of this area should not expect too much more information coming from the local member," Ms McKay said.
Forster nurse and midwife, Paul Sandilands, who ran against Mr Bromhead as an independent in the 2019 election, was even more scathing.
"It is unfortunate that in order to win votes and secure yet another term in office, our sitting member has been prepared to dupe our community with his ongoing promises of a public hospital being designed, built and completed within this current term of government," Mr Sandilands said.
"The clinical services plan is primarily being done because the current clinical services plan, which includes Manning Hospital, expired in 2017. So for two years we've been operating a health service blind."
Mr Sandilands pointed to responses he had received from Hunter New England Local Health District following his own inquiries into the issue as further proof of the dubiousness of Mr Bromhead's claims.
"It very clearly states that in terms of any reference to Forster, the clinical services plan is looking at any 'potential' for a future hospital for Forster," he said.
However, Mr Bromhead dismissed the use of the term 'potential' as the careful wording of a bureaucrat.
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