Although the soon-to-retire State MP for Ballina, Don Page, listed health as a priority and named the future Byron Shire hospital as a key local development, work on the project this year will see only $1.5 million spent on preparatory infrastructure such as car parking and sewerage.
Mr Page noted that the proposed Byron Central Hospital was “expected to include accident and emergency services, 50 acute medical beds, low risk maternity services, x-ray/medical imaging services, a day surgery for public and private patients and a 20-bed mental health unit”.
However, funding the urgently needed facility did not figure strongly in an electorate spend that prioritised $205 million for the completion of the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale upgrade of the Pacific Highway, and – if the area is lucky – a share of a $110 million statewide allocation to the Regional Tourism Fund.
This funding, Mr Page said, “could fund a rail trail on the Casino to Murwillumbah corridor.”
On the ground, it seems a different story – in recent days two railway bridges have been demolished.
In the waning months of his incumbency, the MP/former Minister seemed keen to gain extra kudos from the long-awaited hospital project, saying somewhat prematurely – to extend the birthing analogy – that he was “especially excited to be able to deliver a new hospital”.
A few days later, over in Lismore, a team of hospital ‘deliverers’ assembled with the tools of the trade - fluoro vests, hard hats, excavator – to celebrate the commencement of State 3a of the Lismore Base Hospital (LBH) redevelopment.
This $80.2M build will deliver another long-awaited clinical facility, the new LBH emergency department, which will see its floor space increased four-fold, as well as a new 18-bed renal unit. The work is scheduled for completion by mid-2016.
Lismore MP Thomas George said, “Lismore Hospital is at the very heart of our community and because it has cared for us and our loved ones for so long it’s time it received some TLC.
“The life-saving and life-changing work that goes on inside this hospital is incredible.
The commencement of main works here will be a boost for patients, staff and our community.
“I’m proud to be part of a government that recognises the need to enhance facilities at Lismore with further funds to the tune of $100,000 also committed to plan the next stage of the redevelopment.
“This planning is due to be finalised in the coming months and I look forward to keeping the community updated on this process.”
Mr George said the 2014/15 NSW Budget also included $2.2 million for a new multi-storey car park at LBH, a project estimated to be worth $9.3 million.
“It’s expected that the car park will provide approximately 250 additional car spaces and will cater for staff, patients and visitors.”
The LBH redevelopment has been made possible due to a $20 million contribution from the NSW Government and $60.25 million under the Australian Government’s Health and Hospitals Fund (HHF).
The project will deliver:
- A new and significantly expanded Emergency Department with 31 treatment spaces;
- Emergency Medical Unit (EMU) with 12 treatment spaces;
- Emergency Care Fast Track with six treatment spaces;
- Expanded Medical Imaging capacity;
- A new ambulance drop-off and bay;
- A new renal dialysis unit with 18 treatment spaces;
- Future expansion space for the next phase of the redevelopment; and
- Refurbished spaces will accommodate an expanded community health unit consisting of purposed designed consult and interview rooms.
For a sneak preview take a 'fly-through’ of the new Lismore Base Hospital redevelopment.