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Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis are joined by members of the Grafton United Hospital Auxiliary who have worked tirelessly over many years to fundraise and support Grafton Base Hospital as the NSW Government reaffirmed their commitment to upgrading the hospital. Pictured either side of Mr Gulaptis are current UHA President, Merelle Trill (left) and one of the Auxiliary’s former Presidents, Alba Linklater (right). Image: Contributed.

Redevelopment gets the green light

Emma Pritchard

It was a promise made in 2019 and on October 27, it was reaffirmed to the delight of the Clarence Valley community.

As he stood at the front of Grafton Base Hospital, surrounded by staff and a handful of locals, Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced funds to progress the planning of the redevelopment of the site would be set aside in next month’s budget.

With the historic façade of the hospital already partially hidden by scaffolding, Mr Barilaro emphasised the importance of accessible quality health care in rural and regional parts of the state and said the announcement means planning work can now commence.

“This is a project we have promised to the people of the Clarence Valley and during the election we said in this term of Government we would start the rebuild of this hospital,” Mr Barilaro said.

“This is part of a region that is continuing to grow and it’s important that we have the health services and facilities available to accommodate the community.
“It’s a quarter of a billion-dollar investment by the NSW Government and in this term, we want to start the physical works.”

Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said the future redevelopment of Grafton Base Hospital will support the health needs and well-being of the communities and the healthcare workforce across the Clarence Valley for years to come.

He added the work will expand a range of clinical services to support timely healthcare to ensure the hospital can cater for the future health needs of the community.
“Detailed planning and consultation with clinicians and the community will ensure we get it right for the redeveloped Grafton Base Hospital,” he said.

While he was thrilled to welcome the Deputy Premier and Leader of the Nationals to Grafton to deliver the news, Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the planning work means the community is a big step closer to improved health services.

“Not only do we need to get the infrastructure and the facilities right, we also need to look at the future range of health services and health workforce to best serve the residents of the Clarence Valley,” he said.

“We’ve seen the difference that a new hospital can make with the new Ambulatory Care Centre (which was opened earlier this year) and we can see the difference between it and the old hospital.

“We need to have modern healthcare services for our community.”

The investments by the NSW Government will also ensure local communities can continue to receive the best possible healthcare closer to home while supporting the local economy.