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Image: Courtesy of Maclean District Hospital facebook page.

People power wins reprieve for Maclean Hospital Health district seeks members for advisory group

Geoff Helisma|

The Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) has amended its stance regarding changes it had proposed at Maclean District Hospital.

“Maclean is celebrating a decision from the NNSWLHD to withdraw a reconfiguration of Maclean District Hospital that would have resulted in the loss of two staff,” is how the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) put it in a media release this week.

“In February, NNSWLHD announced a plan to merge two inpatient wards, effectively creating a ghost ward and cutting two positions,” the media release stated.

The NNSWLHD, however, disputed this but has since had a change of mind about what action to take, following several public meetings, the collection of petitions and a public march slated for last Saturday, which was cancelled subsequent to the NNSWLHD announcing it would now form a community advisory group.

“The NSWNMA and its members are monitoring the situation and a petition to table in parliament is still active,” the nurses and midwives media release stated.

Meanwhile, the NNSWLHD is now seeking expressions of interest from individuals living in the Maclean area, to be appointed to a new community advisory group.

“The experiences and ideas of community members provide us with important information when reviewing or establishing services and community health initiatives, and improving patient care,” its website states.

“The Maclean Community Advisory Group will provide advice, feedback and guidance on a range of plans and initiatives.

“We are looking for people from a wide range of backgrounds to represent the community.

“Applicants will be required to complete an expression of interest.

“The committee will meet 4-6 times per year.

“Contribute your opinion and share your experiences while thinking about how to improve health services for your community.

“Use your networks to gather and distribute information.

“All members of NNSWLHD community advisory groups are required to sign a Code of Conduct and Confidentiality and Privacy Agreement and complete a criminal record check (paid for by NNSWLHD).

On what to expect, the NNSWLHD states: “Our staff will provide support and advice.

“You will have the opportunity to be a voice for patients, carers and your community in influencing and shaping local health services … and broaden[ing] your knowledge of the health system.

“Committee members will receive a small payment for each meeting to cover travel and out of pocket expenses.”

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said he “honestly” believed that the LHD should have conducted “a public consultation from the outset”.

“I think that they failed with that,” he said.

“It’s proven to be the case by having to defer any decision until such time that they’ve consulted properly with the


staff and the community.

“My personal opinion is that the services at the hospital need to be expanded because of the growing population, the increasing age demographic and [new] Pacific Highway is going to bring more tourists.”

People interested in applying can do so through the NNSWLHD website.

For more information or if you would like assistance, please contact Gerald May, Community Engagement Manager, (02) 6624 0333 or