Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis has told the Independent that he “will hold the Northern NSW Local Health District (LHD) to account” if there is “any reduction in services or job losses” at the Maclean District Hospital.
“It’s a busy hospital and has played an important role in delivering health services to 25,000 people, and more in the future as the population grows,” he said.
Mr Gulaptis pointed out that the completion of the highway upgrade will result in more tourists and that the Lower Clarence has an “aging demographic”.
The aging population (65 and over) in the Lower Clarence – Lawrence, Woombah, Yamba, Maclean, Iluka, Angourie Palmers Island, Gulmarrad (Brooms Head is not mentioned in the Clarence Valley Council’s community profile at profile.id.com.au) – is significantly higher than the over 65 demographic spread for the entire Clarence Valley local government area (LGA).
For example, the 2016 census recorded that men aged 65-69 make up 8.7 per cent of Iluka’s population, whereas they account for 4.4 per cent of the LGA’s population – similarly for women, Iluka 7.3 per cent, LGA 4.2 per cent.
Gulmarrad sits at the other end of the spectrum, where the total male and female 65-69 population is about the same as the LGA’s; however, overall, the higher number of aged people across the Lower Clarence also exceeds the LGA among the demographics in the 70 to 85 and over age groups.
Mr Gulaptis said he had been “reassured” the hospital would not be disadvantaged by the proposed changes.
“Maclean hospital “needs to be treated in the same way as the city hospitals”, by increasing nursing hours from five nursing hours per patient to six hours, Mr Gulaptis said.
“Maclean is one of the first hospitals to get the increase – it’s getting five extra nurses – the LHD is just changing the management practices.
“[But] at the end of the day, we actually need more health services to be delivered out of the hospital.”
In its statement, the LHD says the hospital will benefit from “a net increase of 4.8 full time equivalent (FTE) new nursing positions”.
Mr Gulaptis will not be attending either of the
meetings as he will be in
parliament on those days.