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Page MP Chris Gulaptis launched his campaign, to redevelop the hospital in October 2018 and maintains the government will stay true to its election promise; however, the Grafton Base Hospital Community Committee is not so sure and is embarking on a public campaign to remind the government of its commitment. Images: contributed

GBH redevelopment planning to begin within weeks

It was first promised in 2019, and now, the long-waited redevelopment of Grafton Base Hospital (GBH) will soon become a reality.

Master planning is set to begin within weeks with the project headlining the NSW Government’s ongoing commitment to the local region in the recent State Budget.

Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the first tranche of the huge $263.8 million investment is a healthy $24 million.

“That is significantly more than has ever been spent on the hospital before, including the recently built ambulatory care unit,” he said.

“It funds the most important phase of the enterprise, and that is getting everything right to ensure we have the best possible state-of-the art hospital to meet the future health needs of the local community.”

Mr Gulaptis said the new State Budget commitment meant master planning would start within weeks, to be followed by key steps towards construction, including detailed design, approvals, the business case, community consultation, and enabling works.

He said community consultation is especially important because no two regional health catchments are the same.

“The redeveloped facility will need to cater to the specific health demands of the Clarence for generations to come,” he said.

“It is about more services in a better facility, so fewer locals have to travel far afield for vital medical care.”

 Mr Gulaptis said those who did have to get treatment at other hospitals would receive additional Government assistance with a $150 million expansion of the popular Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme.

“We are also acutely aware that no matter how good the infrastructure is, what matters most is the people who staff it,” he said.

“That is why the Nationals in NSW Government are also investing $883 million over the next four years to attract and retain health staff in rural and regional NSW.”

Following the announcement last week, the Clarence Valley Independent hit the streets to see how locals were responding to the news.

Allan Griffin: “We need accessible, quality healthcare in Grafton because we have an aging population, and a lot of people don’t want to travel far to receive medical attention. The sooner this redevelopment commences, the better.”

Frank Greenwood: “This is an election commitment the community has waited years for, and many people asked for its inclusion in the 2020/2021 State Budget, so until I physically see work beginning, this news is meaningless to me.”

Karen-Ann Hawkins: “It’s progress, but it’s still a long way off the redevelopment being completed. I’m pleased to hear the announcement, but I want to see action follow all these words I’m hearing.”