Election battle heats up over future of Northern Beaches Hospitals


Source Manly Daily

Northern Beaches Hospital and Mona Vale Hospital have emerged as hot button issues in the run up to this Saturday’s elections, with a number of political parties trying to sway voters by making bold promises over their future.

Labor and The Greens have said they will look at buying back the new privately-run $600m hospital at Frenchs Forest, with The Greens and the Conservatives saying they will restore Mona Vale Hospital’s emergency department and other acute services.

The Northern Beaches Hospital in Frenchs Forest. Picture: Julie Cross.

However, Health Minister and Wakehurst MP Brad Hazzard responded by saying there was a lot of misinformation flying around and that some of the ideas being suggested were “simply loopy and dangerous”.

Greens Party candidate: Miranda Korzy. Picture: Julian Andrews.

Miranda Korzy, The Greens candidate for Pittwater said if elected she would fight to buy back NBH from the private operator Healthscope, which has signed a 20-year contract with NSW Health.

NBH suffered well publicised “teething issues” when it opened last October, which saw staff and medical supply shortages and several senior people resigning.

“The only way we’re going to sort out the mess at NBH and build confidence amongst doctors and nurses, as well as the public, is by placing it in government hands,” Ms Korzy said.

"Nurse" Miranda Korzy (front) with protesters at a mock "mobile maternity unit" on Wakehurst Parkway at Narrabeen that was set up to highlight the risk to women and babies of an extra 30 minutes' travel time to get to the new Northern Beaches Hospital.

Labor’s opposition health spokesman Walt Secord said if elected he would examine the contract with Healthscope to see whether buying back the hospital was possible.

Meanwhile, Mona Vale Hospital, which lost its emergency, theatres, intensive care and maternity unit when NBH opened, continues to remain a controversial issue at the northern end of the peninsula.

Campaigners are fighting to restore the hospital to a Level 3 and there’s no sign of the issue disappearing anytime soon. A purported 1500 people attending a rally held by the group Save Mona Vale Hospital on the peninsula last weekend.

Shadow minister Walt Secord. Picture: Carmela Roche.

Ms Korzy, a core member of Save Mona Vale Hospital group, said The Greens was committed to restoring emergency and other acute services to Mona Vale.

“The community can now see the dysfunction caused by privatising essential services like hospitals, with acute services at Manly and Mona Vale shut down to benefit the shareholders of the Northern Beaches Hospital,” she said.

Mona Vale Hospital. Picture: Adam Yip

Mr Secord added that if Labor were elected he would investigate whether Mona Vale Hospital’s urgent care centre was “operating at an appropriate-level with appropriate staff and medical supplies and standards”.

Stacey Mitchell, Pittwater candidate for the Australian Conservatives. Picture: Supplied.

Meanwhile, the Australian Conservatives candidate for Pittwater Stacey Mitchell released a statement saying she wanted to see the planned demolition of Mona Vale Hospital’s main building, due to asbestos, to be halted and investigated.

She said the people of Pittwater continued to be ignored over the issue and said currently the hospital was “nothing short of a glorified medical centre”.

Health Minister and Wakehurst MP Brad Hazzard. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts.

Mr Hazzard said the new NBH and Mona Vale Hospital work in close unison together to provide a range and level of medical services that have never before been available on the northern beaches.

He said it was “loopy and dangerous” to be suggesting the older parts of Mona Vale Hospital be re-opened for medical services because it had asbestos.

He said that was why new buildings were being built at the site.

“We’re constantly looking at ways to further improve and add to medical services at Mona Vale Hospital — including updating the CT scanner which is used by the emergency physicians,” Mr Hazzard.

Liberal MPs Rob Stokes, Brad Hazzard, Jonathan O'Dea and James Griffin with Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

“I recognise that Mona Vale Hospital’s role is changing and will change,” he said.

“Some think they can just re-open the old building at Mona Vale Hospital, but they literally can’t do it.”

Mr Stokes said an independent report in 2017 found that while it would be technically possible to retain the buildings, the existing planning grid and floor to floor heights do not lend the buildings to contemporary use.

“Put simply the old building has served the community well, but it’s beyond time to construct new buildings and new srevices to provide the community with 21st century health care at Mona Vale Hospital,” he said.


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