Population projections in the new Clinical Services Plan for Griffith Base Hospital called into question

Serious questions are being asked about the accuracy of the new Griffith Base Hospital Clinical Services Plan draft, with concerns over key population statistics used by Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD).

Griffith Business Chamber have outlined “obvious flaws” between the projected population used in the plan and those calculated by ID Community Forecasts with Griffith City Council and census data.

MLHD’s Chief Executive Jill Ludford has responded to these concerns, assuring MLHD is working with Griffith City Council and the Department of Planning and Environment to obtain evidence of higher population forecasts.

The confirmed Census figures for Griffith’s Local Government Area saw a population growth of 7.7 per cent between 2006 to 2016, with a forecasted growth of almost 14 per cent from 2018 to 2036.

Yet the Clinical Service Plan statistics differ significantly.

It states the population in 2016 increased by just 0.4 per cent since 2011, with a slow projected growth rate of only 0.01 per cent per annum expected from 2016 until 2031.

Griffith Business Chamber President Paul Pierotti says these incorrect ‘doomsday’ population projections underplay Griffith’s needs.

“To build a hospital based on the needs of their projections is wildly inaccurate,” Mr Pierotti says.

“When extrapolated over a long period of time they significantly distort the need for vital services in our community and do not properly account for our ageing population.”

He says some of the outer regional areas have had population decline over recent years, however the current trends with significant agribusiness investment “must be taken into account.”

To build a hospital based on the needs of their projections is wildly inaccurate.

Griffith Business Chamber President Paul Pierotti.

Ms Ludford agrees correct statistics are vital for accurately planning the new hospital, and maintains MLHD “accesses the most current population data available.”

“We will consider all new population projections as part of the planning process to ensure the new hospital meets the future needs of the community,” she assured.

Mr Pierotti says the population forecasts in the secondary catchment area also in need of review.

“We are on the cusp of an agribusiness boom and an acknowledgement that food and fibre successes will create a reversal of previous trends and ultimately lead to growth,” Mr Pierotti said.

We assure the community we will listen to all feedback which will provide valuable input into the development of the project.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District’s Chief Executive Jill Ludford.

The population data used for the draft plan was sourced from the 2016 Series Department of Planning and Environment Population Projects, non-amalgamated LGA version.

Both Griffith Business Chamber and MLHD strongly encourage the community’s input, which can be lodged here, open until February 16.

“It is important all community and business groups as well as individual residents provide their comments and feedback on the draft Griffith Health Services Plan,” Ms Ludford said.

“We assure the community we will listen to all feedback which will provide valuable input into the development of the project.”

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