Great Lakes residents can cross the establishment of a public hospital in the Forster Tuncurry area off their wish list, at least in the foreseeable future.
A confidential document from Hunter New England Local Health District (HNEH) has instead put forward a proposal to establish an Urgent Care Centre (UCC) on as yet to be determined site.
The facility would be a nurse practitioner (NP) led walk in centre, with assistance from an on-call general practitioner (GP), who would assess and manage patients, prescribe medications, order diagnostic investigations and directly refer patients to other healthcare professionals.
However, while HNEH has its eye on a couple of sites in Forster, there is no money in the kitty to purchase any land or existing building.
The only monies available in the current budget is for planning the project which was confirmed during last week's budget estimates by Health Infrastructure chief executive officer, Rebecca Wark.
The Forster-Tuncurry community will be forced to wait for many more years, for even this basic urgent care centre.- Labor spokesperson for the Myall Lakes electorate, MLC Courtney Houssos
There is only budget for planning at this stage. That is the work that we are doing, the planning work, Ms Wark said after she was questioned by Labor spokesperson for the Myall Lakes electorate, MLC Courtney Houssos.
According to the document, people would visit a UCC when they believed they had an issue that required immediate medical attention.
Ideally as many people as possible would be able to obtain care at the walk-in UCC before being treated and discharged or admitted to an appropriate 'local' hospital, either John Hunter, Newcastle, Manning, Taree or Gloucester.
Research has identified UCCs provide care to all categories of emergency presentations, treat critically ill and injured patients and perform most procedures.
"The UCC at Forster will be a key point of entry to the HNEH public health system in the Mid-Coast local government area (LGA)," the document said.
"Health services have a responsibility to ensure all services provided to patients are safe and within the capability and role of the services and its clinicians."
Ms Houssos said the 'secret' documents revealed the area's worst fears - there was no plan or funding for a complete public hospital at Forster Tuncurry.
"The National Party has been deceiving the local community, promising a new, public hospital and only ever planning to build a satellite urgent care centre, without any doctors present," Ms Houssos said.
"Even the health bureaucrats admitted this was 'a different proposition to an emergency department'.
"There's still no timeframe for purchasing the land, and no funding to buy it.
"The Forster-Tuncurry community will be forced to wait for many more years, for even this basic urgent care centre."
Ms Houssos asked Secretary of Ministry of Health, Susan Pearce how many nurses were likely to be employed at the 'proposed' UCC?
"I think we would have to take that on notice, noting that an urgent care centre is a different proposition to an emergency department," Ms Pearce said.
Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead said he was aware HNEH had proposed an UCC.
However, that is not what the government has committed to, Mr Bromhead said.
"We have promised a public hospital and we will deliver a public hospital," he said.
"There are ample reports showing the very real need for this within Forster.
"Health Infrastructure NSW has a multi-billion dollar budget available for capital works."
Stephen Bromhead MP delivers
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