Future of Pambula hospital back on the table

On Thursday, April 3, the new reformed Pambula hospital community engagement committee will meet to consider the options for the future of Pambula hospital.

Unlike the previous committee the new one has been given terms of reference which are “to identify the post 2016 role for Pambula hospital” as well as how the hospital gets there.

Chair of the Local Health District board, Jenny Symons said: “We have to manage the transition for staff. Until the new regional hospital is opened we need all the beds in Pambula and Bega to be open.”

However in considering a post 2016 role for Pambula after the new regional hospital opens, committee members have been told that there can be no duplication of services.

At the committee’s first meeting on Friday, March 14, members of the committee were given an options paper which asked them to look at four possible health models.

Although none of the committee members will talk about the paper, it is clear that several have reservations about it. Geoff Dove said that it was hard to talk about it at this stage but questioned whether the options were “set in concrete” or “guidelines”.

Sharon Tapscott called the document “alarming” and said that everything they didn’t want to happen would. Mrs Tapscott said that she would oppose the document.

But LHD board member, Russell Fitzpatrick said that the options were not fixed. “In part this is about access to money.” He said that depending on the model used, access to both federal and state funds could be available.

New committee member and general manager of Imlay House, Helen Ellwood said: “The NSW Health Minister has said that Pambula hospital will not close, so it is a matter of finding a model to provide services to complement, not duplicate the services at the new regional hospital, with cost effective use of resources. I hope the committee can focus on the big picture for regional services as well as keeping PDH open.”

General manager of Bega Valley Health Services, Heather Austin said: “I would like to think we could sit in a room and get the best outcome for the site, for Pambula and for the community. We need to have realistic parameters; this is a lovely little boutique hospital.”

Who is on the new committee

The call for a new committee followed the resignation of all but one previous committee members due to disenchantment with the process.

However four of the original committee members, Sharon Tapscott, Dr Frank Simonson, Ken Carmen and Geoff Dove have returned.

They have been joined by Dr Angele Nimmo, of the Tura Beach Medical Centre, Colin Dunn, of Pambula Beach and Daryl Dobson, Merimbula who have both been very active in the community, Jane Linehan, who works with the elderly and disabled and lives in Nethercote and Helen Ellwood, general manager of Imlay House.

Russell Fitzpatrick was a member of the original committee; he has not joined the new committee but retains his board position with the Local Health District (LHD).

The committee meets under the umbrella of the LHD and board member, Russell Fitzpatrick, chair of the LHD board, Jenny Symons and general manager of Bega Valley Health Services, Heather Austin will attend meetings in a non-voting capacity. Ms Symons said that they hoped to find an independent chair for the community engagement committee. 

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