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NSW Govt blocked Armidale Hospital redevelopment funding application

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TAMWORTH OFFICE SHOP 5, 259 PEEL STREET, TAMWORTH 2340 PH: 02 6761 3080 OR TOLL FREE 1300 301 839 FAX: 02 6761 3380 INVERELL OFFICE 88 OTHO STREET, INVERELL 2360 PH: 02 6721 0144 FAX: 02 6721 0288 ALL MAIL PO BOX 963, TAMWORTH NSW 2340 EMAIL: WEB:



Media Release 22nd August 2012 NSW Govt blocked Armidale Hospital redevelopment funding application Documents relating to the redevelopment of the Armidale Hospital funding application to the Commonwealth Health and Hospital Fund obtained under a Freedom of Information request by the Independent Member for New England, Tony Windsor, have revealed that NSW Health refused to resubmit the revised application despite pleas from Hunter New England Health, and then blamed their inaction on the federal government. Mr Windsor is furious that the people of Armidale weren’t able to even access Round 4 of the fund that he had negotiated to be a dedicated round for regional Australia as part of his agreement to form Government. Mr Windsor says the response from Dr Mary Foley the Director General NSW Health to Hunter New England Local Health District CEO, Mr Michael Di Rienzo’s letter recommending the resubmission of the Armidale Hospital application is nothing short of an insult to the people of Armidale. “The FOI documents show that Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD) wanted to submit a revised Armidale Hospital funding application only to have Director General NSW Health Dr Mary Foley refuse to do so. “The NSW Government’s refusal to re-submit the Armidale Hospital application on the grounds that it had not been invited to re-submit is a nonsense. “In fact, the FOI documents show an email from Sue Williamson of the Federal Health Department clearly telling NSW Health that ‘As you know, Round 4 was open to everyone including unsuccessful applicants’”. “Other emails show how NSW Health staff conspired to omit Mrs Williamson’s advice from media briefings, in order to concoct this fiction that Armidale Hospital hadn’t been invited to submit an application to Round 4,” Mr Windsor said. In her letter to Mr Di Rienzo, Dr Foley summarised her refusal to submit the Armidale Hospital application saying:- “While I understand your disappointment in this decision not to resubmit an application under this Round, the development of these applications to the high level that has come to represent an acceptable standard by NSW Health does take considerable investment in time and resources at both the Local Health District and Department. Given there is a relatively small amount of capital funding available nationally to both the public and private sector NSW Health will limit the number of projects so as not to unreasonably raise expectation both by the community and clinicians and to adequately resource those proposals going forward.” Mr Di Rienzo however pointed out in his letter that ‘Only relatively minor adjustment is needed to the proposal and the need for this work continues to grow to improve the scope and provision of local health services.” “What Dr Foley didn’t say was that 38 projects had been put up by NSW Health for funding in Round 4 - one was withdrawn by NSW Health, one was deemed ineligible as it benefited another state. Of the 36 ruled on, 5 were assessed as eligible but were unfunded in Round 3 and therefore carried over to Round 4 meaning that 31 applications were either newly developed or revised proposals. …/2


TAMWORTH OFFICE SHOP 5, 259 PEEL STREET, TAMWORTH 2340 PH: 02 6761 3080 OR TOLL FREE 1300 301 839 FAX: 02 6761 3380 INVERELL OFFICE 88 OTHO STREET, INVERELL 2360 PH: 02 6721 0144 FAX: 02 6721 0288 ALL MAIL PO BOX 963, TAMWORTH NSW 2340 EMAIL: WEB:

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“This alone proves that NSW Health and Minister Skinner clearly understood the difference between a carried over assessed eligible Round 3 project and the need to resubmit previously ineligible but revised Round 3 applications as well as new Round 4 applications.

“A general invitation was put out for Round 4 to access the remaining $475m which had been split off from the original $1.8B partly to allow those applications like the Armidale Hospital that didn’t meet the eligibility criteria in Round 3 to resubmit a revised application for Round 4 having had the benefit of the feedback.

“Meetings were held in Armidale attended by myself, Richard Torbay, Hunter New England Health, local medicos and others with appropriate skills and interest to prepare the resubmission with the expectation that the application would at least progress back to the Health and Hospital Fund Advisory Board,” Mr Windsor said.

As a result of the information now to hand, Mr Windsor believes that the NSW Health Minister Ms Jillian Skinner did indeed mislead the NSW Parliament and more importantly the people of Armidale over the application for their hospital to be redeveloped when she responded to a question about the resubmission.

“Minister Skinner told the NSW Parliament ‘Feedback from the Health and Hospitals Funds Advisory Board is that a new Armidale application would not be proposed this time round.’

“Minister Skinner would know that it wasn’t the responsibility of the Health and Hospital Funds Advisory Board to propose applications - they only look at the applications when they are submitted so Ms Skinner either doesn’t know the process or was deliberately misleading NSW parliament.

“Minister Skinner also told NSW Parliament that ‘the Commonwealth Government did not offer Armidale Hospital the opportunity to resubmit’, which directly contradicts the advice to her department that Round 4 was open to everybody.

“These emails expose the machinations of NSW Health and the Minister as they tried to cover their role in blocking the Armidale Hospital redevelopment.

“I am also aware that some relevant documents have not been included among those released to me for whatever the reason.

“The people of Armidale deserve to know the truth about why the ball was dropped and by whom.

“It certainly wasn’t the Hunter New England Local Health District and I congratulate Mr Di Rienzo for going into bat as he did.

“The buck stops with the Minister and she now should fully explain herself to the people of Armidale.

“It appears that through political consideration, Armidale was removed from the list of applications to a dedicated regional health round and it’s the people of Armidale and district who now have to recommence a process that they believed they had already been through and met the eligibility criteria.

“To make matters worse, the dedicated regional round of funding is now fully allocated.

“Ms Skinner and the NSW Government need to be held to account for their behaviour and I trust that all community representatives will pursue the truth and pressure the NSW Government to admit their duplicity in this matter and fully fund the redevelopment,” Mr Windsor said.

Relevant FOI documents attached