Geoff Helisma |
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis’s campaign to secure $263.8million to redevelop Grafton Base Hospital (GBH) is progressing; however, the NSW Budget does not earmark any funding for the project, which the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNLHD) rates as its top priority.
The project is listed in the ‘Election Commitments’ paper, as one of three health projects in the planning stage across the state, with the following citation: “Progress planning for the $263 million GBH redevelopment [is underway], in addition to the $17.5 million [from the 2018/19 budget] already invested in the current upgrade of the hospital.”
The $17.5 million ambulatory care centre is expected to be completed in early 2020.
Following the NSW election in March, Mr Gulaptis “made representations” to Health Minister Brad Hazard, who responded in a June 12 letter, in part: “In the period prior to the March election, the NSW Government announced a significant number of upgrades to hospital and health related facilities across the state.
I can advise that work will commence on these projects during the current four-year term of government.
“This requires prioritisation of when projects will commence over the next four years, and will occur in alignment with the annual budget process … in consultation with NSW Treasury.
“Once funding is made available … Health Infrastructure will work with the local health district and clinical staff to progress [sic] the project through the planning stages.”
The Independent asked Mr Gulaptis: ‘What are the projected starting and finishing dates for the $263million upgrade?’
Mr Gulaptis replied with the following statement: “There is no line item [in the budget], as such, as we are still in the very early planning stages, but there is a commitment for works to commence during this term of government….
“I have been given assurances by the Premier, Treasurer and Deputy Premier that all election commitments will be honoured.
“…In the meantime, consultation needs to occur between the NNLHD, clinicians, and the community, to ensure the redeveloped hospital is able to provide for the community into the future.”
People who are interested in finding out more about the process can view a video, which explains the process of building a hospital, at: www.hinfra.health.nsw.gov.au/our-business/how-to-build-a-hospital.
Meanwhile, there are 29 other hospital and health facility projects listed in the ‘Election Promises’ budget paper that are “to commence prior to March 2023”, which suggests that on the ground works at GBH are unlikely to commence before the next election in 2023.