Shellharbour is the fastest growing area on the eastern seaboard of NSW and health services need to keep up to date with this population – and ageing population – growth. As a result, Shellharbour Hospital needs a major upgrade.
The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District’s Health Care Services Plan for the next decade revealed Shellharbour Hospital was a key priority – set to become a major metropolitan hospital which will provide a comprehensive range of secondary acute services to the southern Illawarra region.
This will mean patients in our electorate will get better access to a range of additional health care services – more beds, more emergency treatment spaces, more clinics, more outpatient services and more surgical capabilities.
It will mean less travel, more doctors and nurses, and better, improved building facilities for patients.
It will mean a range of more auxiliary staff and healthcare workers, creating up to 500 more local jobs.
However, the 2013-14 Budget failed to deliver any substantial funding for the upgrade – just $3.2 million to be shared in a mish-mash of funding between planning for Shellharbour and Shoalhaven Hospitals as well as for the Master Plan of Wollongong Hospital. The same planning money has been offered by the State Government in its last budget, as its very first budget three years ago.
While the design team to plan the redevelopment of Shellharbour Hospital has been appointed, the construction team selected (despite no local Illawarra-based companies getting a look in), and the Shellharbour Hospital Service Plan released, there is still no roadmap to fund the likely $250 – $300 million investment for this much-needed upgrade.
Member for Kiama, Gareth Ward MP, has publicly conceded that the planning work required has still not yet been completed.
Since coming to office, Anna has campaigned for this upgrade, including sending the Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner more than 500 letters from people in the Shellharbour electorate outlining why an upgrade is needed.
Both Anna and NSW Shadow Treasurer, Michael Daley have continued to urge the NSW government to make the upgrade of Shellharbour Hospital a priority.
With damaging statistics and revelations, there is community concern that resources are being further stretched to their limit:
• the Illawarra hospitals’ unplanned re-admission rates blow out – the highest in the state for the last 2 years;
• the stubbornly high waiting times for urgent elective surgery at Shellharbour Hospital;
• patients with non-urgent surgeries waiting over 80 days longer than they did three years ago;
• Shellharbour Hospital failing to meet the mandatory national target for emergency departments processing of patients within four hours;
Funding for Shellharbour Hospital is more needed than ever.
Anna will continue to campaign strongly on behalf of our local community for the NSW government to commit all of the $10 million needed to do all of the planning work for the upgrade of Shellharbour Hospital in the next budget – instead of the dribble of funding which was committed in the last budget.
Download and sign our petition here: Shellharbour Hospital Petition