What's in a name? Juliet once asked of Romeo.
And, what is the difference between a hospital and a health facility?
That was the question Minister for Regional Health, Bronnie Taylor struggled to answer after the State government announced $20 million towards the future delivery of a public hospital in the Great Lakes had been set aside in the State Budget.
However, just $1 million of the $20 million had been allocated for the 2022-23 financial year.
Following the announcement on Tuesday, June 21, MLC, Courtney Houssos put forward a question without notice asking Ms Taylor why the government had downgraded the promised Forster public hospital to a health facility in the Budget.
Speaking to the Great Lakes Advocate, Ms Houssos said the government had outrageously downgraded Forster hospital and was now calling it Forster Health Facility.
"And, there's only $1million for it in this year's budget.," she said.
But, according to the minister a "hospital is a health facility.
"I said that we will deliver a hospital and that is why there is $20 million committed to start that process," Ms Taylor said.
The government - backed up by Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead - committed to a public hospital in either Forster or Tuncurry prior to the last election.
"I wanted to know what the scope of the works is and what will be done over the next year, but the minister refused to answer the question," Ms Houssos said.
I wanted to know what the scope of the works is and what will be done over the next year, but the minister refused to answer the question.- MLC Courtney Houssos
"I am interested in what that $1 million will be spent on. If it is planning, then the minister just needs to say, 'planning'.
"If it is the purchase of land, the minister can say, "purchase of land." We are asking for a direct answer.
"Since 2019 I have asked question after question of health bureaucrats about the progress of the proposed Forster hospital that was promised to the local community before the last election, and it is pretty clear that there has been no progress.
"No land has been purchased and there has been no consultation with the community about what the scope of services will be."
While Mr Bromhead's office welcomed the news, it too was unable to highlight what the $1 million would be spent on.
The local member has been on personal leave since February.
"The $1 million is for planning and it is too early to comment on site selection at this stage," an office spokesperson said.
"The Hunter New England Local Health District, in collaboration with Health Infrastructure, is currently working towards fulfilling the NSW Government's commitment for the provision of a public hospital in the Forster-Tuncurry locality and today's (Tuesday) Budget includes $20 million to begin work on the Forster-Tuncurry Hospital.
"This will ensure people living in and around the Great Lakes will have their health care needs met closer to home."
For more information, visit: budget.nsw.gov.au
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