Gunnedah Shire Council is demanding answers on the scaled-back Gunnedah Hospital redevelopment.
In a five-point address to NSW Regional Health Minister Ryan Park, council voted unanimously to support Jamie Chaffey’s mayoral minute enquiring about the state government’s future plans for the new $53 million new hospital.
Questions raised include total cost now for construction of the original masterplan, funding already spent as well as to who and when was advice provided about the inability to deliver the original design.
Council also called for more funding be committed in the government’s September budget.
It follows a shock briefing to council earlier this month detailing a significant revision of facilities and services previously included but now omitted in the design. According to the government, the revision was due to escalating construction costs. Parts of the upgrade no longer expected to be delivered include new oncology, renal dialysis, upgraded theatre and day surgery, medical imaging, plant room and community health facilities.
Many councillors expressed their bitter disappointment about the setback on the vital health facility.
Councillor Kate McGrath, who stood as Labor candidate in the 2023 state election, offered her unconditional support for the mayoral minute and questions raised therein.
Cr Colleen Fuller was “horrified” a commitment for cancer and renal services had been withdrawn.
“I’m beyond disgusted,” she said.
Cr Murray O’Keefe said the planning and advocacy for the new hospital has been “virtually a full-time job” for some in the community.
He worried about the impact the loss of new enabling infrastructure at the hospital would have on supporting employment in Gunnedah.
Deputy mayor Rob Hooke highlighted the strong gains made in the recruitment of doctors to Gunnedah.
“Part of that has been the promise of a new hospital,” he said, describing the revised design as a “band-aid on a very old facility”.
Cr Juliana McArthur said the community has been invested in the hospital redevelopment. She said for the government to deliver a “sub-par” hospital upgrade was not acceptable as Gunnedah needed and deserved quality health services.
Cr David Moses said the revised scope will only push more people out of town for health services.
“We can’t rely on Tamworth all the time, we deserve more,” he said.To order photos from this page click here