Situation dire: Petition seeks guaranteed government funding for hospital

Community pressure is needed to effect change on how government funding is allocated: Country Labor candidate and Taree doctor, David Keegan (second right) with Bryan Clancy, Marion Hosking OAM and Nola Binder discussing the lack of hospital funding. THE “dire situation” facing Manning Hospital in Taree is the catalyst for a community campaign to try to secure a State government guarantee that it will fund stage one infrastructure works.

Counter tops in doctors’ rooms, chemists and general stores in the three State electorates that feed patients to the hospital will display a petition that seeks to focus State government attention on Manning Hospital. It reads:

“This petition of the citizens of the Greater Taree, Great Lakes and Gloucester local government areas, brings to the attention of the House, the dire situation facing the Manning Base Hospital in Taree. After years of lobbying for hospital funding, a Clinical Services Plan and Building Master Plan was completed in July 2013 and has been endorsed by Hunter New England Area Health Service. The undersigned petitioners ask the Legislative Assembly to guarantee funding to implement stage one of Manning Base Hospital.”

Driving the petition initiative is Dr David Keegan and he is hoping to mirror the success of the community campaign to stop the closure of the Nita Reed Community Dialysis Centre in Taree. Dr Keegan stepped forward in October last year to expose the concerns of hospital medical staff and patients about the Hunter New England Health (HNE Health) decision to close the dialysis centre. A petition as part of a broader campaign by Dr Keegan, Greater Taree City Council mayor Paul Hogan, Nita Reed OAM, Lyn Mayo OAM and dialysis patients saw HNE Health act to stop the closure of the centre.

Dr Keegan contends that community pressure on the State government is the only way to effect change in how funding is allocated to our region and he recently announced that he will seek to advance issues politically by standing as the Country Labor candidate for the Myall Lakes electorate in the March 2015 election.

He says it is critical that Manning Hospital be urgently allocated funding and “sadly, it seems that only when our community is forced to rally together to fight, like we did with Nita Reed, that anything seems to be done.”

“Three years ago the creation of a Clinical Services Plan (CSP) was considered urgent. It was done and nothing has come of it, and now we’ve been told that it’s really only a concept plan,” Dr Keegan said.

“We need the State government to direct money to our hospital so that we can get urgent capital works underway and I’ve now learned that it’s not even in the State government’s forward capital works program.”

Dr Keegan is also utilising to provide people with access to an online petition. To access the petition go to the website and enter ‘Manning Base Hospital’ in the search box to locate the petition or click here.

Dr Keegan’s petition comes in the wake of recent comments about the infrastructure crisis and the political representation of member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead by Manning Health Committee chair, Don Macinnis.

Mr Macinnis described the infrastructure crisis as “a festering sore” and said “millions of dollars was urgently needed”. He said “the biggest challenge to be addressed is to get our local member who specialises in sound bytes, press releases and photo opportunities to get off his backside and do something.”

The reference to Mr Bromhead stems from the committee’s frustration at being repeatedly told “that money is coming”.

“Having spent all that time drawing up plans and ideas we want to know how they (State government) are going to go about it, and when they are going to start,” Mr Macinnis said.

“We want Mr Bromhead to put his hand-up for a new hospital. It is as simple as that.

“The front portion of the hospital was completed 57 years ago. That’s the front wing the other wing is older and inside that time, it has been gutted and rebuilt four or five times.

“It’s just a festering sore, I prefer to call it, and it’s not just us, Forster is just as much involved when you think about the issues.”

Two weeks ago Mr Bromhead issued a media release stating, “it is very pleasing that the NSW 2014/15 Budget contained $50 million in the Restart NSW program for six regional hospitals from which Manning Base will receive $5 – $10 million to kick start the project.”

The release did not provide the exact funding figure or details of when monies would be provided to enable works to begin but further questions to Mr Bromhead revealed that “the amount will be determined by the treasurer, the health minister and cabinet.”

The Manning River Times this week sought an update from Mr Bromhead regarding any further developments in relation to infrastructure funding. No response from Mr Bromhead was received at the time of going to print.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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