The planning stages for a new Tumut Hospital will begin this year, with the NSW government responding to decades of lobbying from community groups for the 117-year-old building to be replaced.
State MP Daryl Maguire said he was “elated” that the planning for the Tumut Hospital would finally go ahead after he saw to its inclusion in the NSW 2017/18 budget.
“The competition has been tough but the fight was worth it, and the result for Tumut and the region when the hospital is finished will prove that every moment spent advocating and pushing will be worthwhile. They deserve it,” he said.
“The community has waited patiently for this and I thank them again for understanding that the Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital had to come first.”
Mr Maguire said the Clinical Services Plan for the new hospital has already been completed, and that he expects the final plan for the hospital build to be delivered in approximately 12 months.
Planning for the recently completed Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital, which Tumut will be a “carbon copy” of in terms of its planning methodology, took closer to eight years. However, Mr Maguire said he is confident that won’t happen in this case.
“I’ll be pushing them, I won’t stop until I’m standing on the steps of that new hospital cutting the ribbon,” he said.
“The planning took longer [in Wagga] because the Labor Party had originally allocated some funds and they screwed the plans up, and when we came into government we tore them up because they were insufficient to our needs and we started with a blank slate.
“In six short years we’ve delivered new hospitals in Tamworth, Parkes, Forbes, Dubbo, additions in Port Macquarie, Lismore, Bega, Lockhart, just to name a few, as well as redeveloping several Sydney Hospitals, so we know how to build hospitals.”
Tumut will get a share of $15 million allocated for hospital planning in Rouse Hill, Liverpool, St George, Tumut and Griffith Hospitals in this year’s budget, with the exact figure currently undisclosed.
A Murrumbidgee Local Health District spokesperson said they are in discussions to find out more details about what the planning stage of the Tumut Hospital will entail, and will be able to make a comment soon.
Mr Maguire said he would be pushing for a new ambulance station as part of the plans, and community advocate Lorraine Wysman also said that it was a chance for the community to be “innovative” and push for things like improved rehabilitation facilities.
Following the Clinical Services Plan there are nine more phases in the building process according to NSW Government methodology, with six of them coming in before ‘construction,’ so the hospital certainly won’t be built overnight.
Sue Swann, former Chair of the ‘No More Bandaids’ group which lobbied hard for a new hospital for ten years before giving up, said that she still fears it won’t be built at all.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” she said.
“We were categorically told by the council here that we would be walking into a new hospital at the beginning of 2007. Over time, the people of Tumut have been duped, and people in the health profession as well, by the governing bodies.
“I am not confident that I will ever see a new hospital in Tumut in my lifetime, and most of the other campaigners have died since. It’s really quite sad.”
It’s also worth noting that planning is rather cautiously described in the budget as being for a “potential future upgrade” of the hospital.
However, Ms Swann is not walking away from her position that a new Hospital is something the community desperately needs.
“You talk to any doctor that’s come and gone because they’ve been so disgusted by the conditions of the hospital, and they’ll tell you that there’s some pretty nasty bugs in the walls and in the floors,” she said.
“I was there when the Asset Audit Report said that it was ‘unfit for human habitation’ in 2007, and it hasn’t changed much since then. “Tumut has lost out for a long time.”