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Thursday, 1 March 2012
Page: 2554


Ms SAFFIN (Page) (16:56): I want to put on record my serious concerns about the future of Campbell Hospital in Coraki in my seat of Page. These serious concerns are shared by the approximately 1,200 residents of Coraki. The concerns are these. The hospital has been closed since last September after sustaining serious damage from a storm. We were told that the hospital had to be closed for safety reasons while repairs were carried out. Given that this had happened once before—there had been damage to the hospital and it had then been closed, repaired and then reopened—we believed that it would be repaired and then reopened. It seems that we were wrong—hopefully we were only wrong and not deceived. The repairs have been done and there is a structural report in, but there has been no reopening.

Today I read on page 3 of the local newspaper, the Northern Star, about comments from the chair of the Northern New South Wales Local District Health Board. The chair was reported to have said that the hospital was not going to be reopened and that 'the present status of Campbell Hospital will remain unchanged'. According to the report, the chair went on to say:

The local health board will not be making any final decisions regarding the provision of clinical services to the Coraki and surrounds population until it receives and discusses the clinical services plan that will be developed.

That worries a lot of people—yes, they want a clinical services plan, but how long will this take? They have no information about that and they feel that it has been sprung on them.

In the same article, the local general practitioner, Dr Craig, is reported to have said that it was becoming clear that the long-term plan was to close the hospital for good. That is the fear of the local community and I understand those fears. I hope Dr Craig is wrong and I would caution the board against such a move. If they want to put improved health services into Coraki and district, they should do so—but, in order to have the trust and cooperation of the community, they need to get back to taws. They should open the hospital first, then develop the plan and then work in consultation with the community. It is sad that one of the first actions of this relatively new board—with community representatives on it—is to do this. It is not a good action and it is not a good look. Lack of communication with the Coraki and district community about the health service is a perennial concern of mine and all residents.

I raise three other points. Firstly, I have a petition which went out into the local community. This is a small but significant community—it has about 1,200 residents. The petition has over 1,400 signatures. Secondly, I want to put on the record that the CEO of the health district rang my office and said that he wants to meet with me next Tuesday. I am happy to do that but I shall report the outcome of that meeting to the local community—they are the people I represent. Thirdly, I have also received a letter from the Bogal Local Aboriginal Land Council. It says:

Dear Janelle

Re: Campbell Hospital, Coraki

I write in regard to the possible closure of this vital facility. The Bogal Local Aboriginal Land Council has over 100 members from the local area who rely heavily on this facility for regular and emergency medical treatment. The nearest facility is at Casino or Lismore—some 30 minutes away by road and this could be the difference between life and death for a seriously ill or injured person. The Campbell hospital services have declined dramatically in the past 20 years—At one stage it had a rehabilitation unit, 30 beds and a mental health service that was recognised around the world for the work it did. The further demise of the hospital is seen as detrimental to the well-being of the local people and places them in a compromising situation with regard to their seeking health services. We strongly request the hospital remain as a vital health facility offering essential services in the Coraki area.

Yours sincerely,

Lance Manton

Chief Executive Officer

The SPEAKER: Order! It being past 5 pm, the debate is interrupted.

House adjourned at 17:01