Minister Hazzard and MLHD host fiery meeting on new Griffith Base Hospital

A tense public meeting saw NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and his senior bureaucrats answer questions from MIA residents on plans for a new Griffith Base Hospital at Griffith Exies on Monday. 

The Minister, and bureaucrats from Murrumbidgee and Local Health District (MLHD) and Health Infrastructure –  the goverment body that plans and designs new hospitals – outlined the process for building a new hospital before taking audience questions. 

The full video of the session is embeded online, three notable exchanges are summarised here:

Alleged community negativity on the hospital 

Margaret King, who is chair of a local body that advises the MLHD on hospital matters, said (1:07 min into video):

“I don’t want to see negative and untrue comments on Facebook anymore… there has been a commitment today, I don’t know what more you want than that… ”. 

Her comment was sharply rebuked by Save Griffith Base Hospital president Jenna Woodland, to loud applause. 

“We’ve been waiting thirty years to get this done, now all of sudden you’re on board we’re supposed to hold hand and sing Kum Ba Yah” 

“I do not apologise for publicising the gaps in communications with the MLHD… do not put us down for putting light to this dire situation”. 

How many people does Griffith Base Hospital service?

After Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he thought about 30,000 people were serviced by Griffith Base Hospital, Griffith resident Grant Hearn quoted an MLHD strategic report saying the hospital caters to 59,000 people. 

“May I suggest that may be part of the problem, why we we are being so under serviced is that the politicians and the bureaucrats don’t know how many people are out here needing to be looked after,” Mr Hearn said

“That’s not fair, on the basis I did it off the top of my head [the 30,000 calculation]… so I think you’re being a little trite sir,” Minister Hazzard replied. 

No designated space for victims of sexual assault

MLHD Chief Executive Jill Ludford said the new hospital plan would address the lack of a designated space in the hospital for victims of sexual assault, who currently have no private room to stay when they are admitted, and get lumped in with mental health patients. 

“Why can’t be have it now?” Yvonne Wilson asked

“Because we need to build and we need to plan,” Ms Ludford said

“We’ve been waiting for at least [38 years year],” Ms Wilson said

“The process has commenced and we’ll make sure we consult with you as we go forward,” Ms Ludford replied.

The MLHD forum was held following a month of protests over the alleged downgrading of services at Griffith Base Hospital.

The NSW Government recently promised Griffith would get a new hospital, and pledged $35 million to fund the first stage of development. 

The public forum was also attended by outgoing member for Murray Adrian Piccoli and Griffith mayor John Dal Broi.