NSW Minister for Health Jillian Skinner’s take on improvements to Pambula District Hospital doesn’t quite match the reality of the situation.
In late October 2012, the Bega Valley Shire Council formally advised Mrs Skinner of the positive result of the hospital poll conducted in conjunction with the council September 2012 elections.
At council’s Wednesday February 5 meeting, Mrs Skinner’s response was tabled.
She stated that: “The NSW Government recognises the importance of the Pambula hospital to the local community and is committed to the best utilisation of the hospital and its services for the community.”
Mrs Skinner said that during 2012 the following improvements to services at Pambula Hospital had been undertaken
• Commencement of ophthalmic surgery;
• A specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist was appointed and has commenced outpatient clinics in obstetrics and gynaecology;
• Gynaecology procedures have been resumed;
• Antenatal care clinics including high risk pregnancy clinics have commenced and
• Planning for the implementation of post natal care at the hospital is well advanced.
Mrs Skinner said: “The Southern New South Wales Local Health District is also working with the Pambula Hospital Advisory Committee, medical and clinical staff and local communities to define appropriate services for the Pambula Hospital post-2016.” (The proposed opening date for the new Bega hospital).
Councillor Sharon Tapscott, who is also president of the Save Our Hospital Inc (SOHI), took the opportunity to acquaint the councillors with the facts of the situation.
Cr Tapscott acknowledged that the future of Pambula hospital was “looking a lot brighter”.
“We have a new surgical bed that cost $34,000 courtesy of Bendigo Bank, an upgraded x-ray bed and we have raised $6000 from a trivia night towards a central monitor for ER which costs $16,000. A new acting nurse manager with lots of energy has initiated staff action towards the upgrade of equipment by way of a series of trivia nights. There is now a feeling that the hospital has a future which translates into a much more positive vibe and a better work environment,” Cr Tapscott said.
“However while Jillian Skinner says ophthalmic surgery has commenced it only amounts to two lists per month.
“We spent a lot of money on installing the necessary air-conditioner, one of the requirements before that service could commence. Our new bed and the operating theatre continue to be under-utilised.
“As for the specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist what the hospital has in fact is a locum doctor from Bega who visits fortnightly on a regular basis.
“Post natal has not been implemented. It is not there and it never will be there and this has been made abundantly clear to us.
“We do have a new service called transitional care. It is a service provided to mothers when they are discharged from Bega who may not be able to cope at home. They are looked after for a couple of nights and attended to by an outreach nurse not by hospital nursing staff.
“I can only assume that the minister believes what she has stated to be accurate,” Cr Tapscott said.
Cr Liz Seckold said: “I think it is a far than less satisfactory response from the minister. Originally we did ask her for a commitment of $38 million to Pambula for five years from the commencement of the new Bega hospital to ensure Pambula hospital is funded at its current budget level.
“She has not made any commitment to that other than to say Pambula hospital will be complementary to the new hospital.”