THE snowball has become an avalanche in the push for a brand new public hospital in Griffith, with the state’s health minister backing a long-term plan to rebuild the rundown facility.
It comes after The Area News confirmed on Friday a 10-year masterplan for the hospital – set to be released early next year – would recommend it be completely rebuilt.
NSW Minister for Health Jillian Skinner hailed the masterplan as a step in the right direction, urging residents to join the fight for a new hospital.
“I’m pleased the Murrumbidgee Local Health District has commenced the process ... to outline the health needs of Griffith and wider communities over the next decade,” Ms Skinner said.
“It is absolutely essential that we plan for the future of health care in this state and the sustainability of our health facilities forms part of this planning.
“I support the Local Health District’s decision to plan for the future of Griffith Hospital to ensure it meets patient needs well into the future.
“I encourage interested community members to work with Griffith Hospital and the Local Health District to participate in the planning process.”
The project is estimated to cost about $250 million.
The masterplan’s lead consultant, Colleen Wilson, said attracting that level of funding could be a difficult tightrope for regional communities.
“Blind Freddy can see the building is passed its use-by date,” Ms Wilson said.
“It was built for a different time when there were different services.
“There are probably a lot of hospitals in NSW in the same position but the government needs to prioritise and make a plan about how to replace these assets over time.
“This would be a 10 or 15 year plan and we would recommend it be staged. That makes it more realistic and it’s easier to get funding if you’re asking for clumps of $20 million or $30 million.
“We want to work in concert with the public though.
“It really needs their support to happen.”
Griffith councillor Anne Napoli, who has had a long affiliation with Griffith Base at board level, said the fight for a new public hospital should not overshadow fundraising for the Griffith Community Private Hospital.
“I believe the public and private hospitals can work very well together for the betterment of the entire community,” Cr Napoli said.
“Griffith Base has served us very well but times have changed and technology has changed and it’s just not functional anymore.
“Attracting funding will be difficult but we should not lose sight of the goal and the community should continue to work and lobby towards it.”