South Coast MPs say the upcoming state budget must address the need for an “urgent” upgrade of Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital.
Kiama MP Gareth Ward committed in parliament on Wednesday to fight for a “major upgrade” of the hospital.
Mr Ward said it was his belief, after personal experience, that the hospital cannot provide the services demanded by the greater Shoalhaven population.
“When my mother came out of surgery for a recent breast cancer operation there was a risk she would be left without a recovery bed,” he said.
“The bed was eventually found, and it was found in the maternity ward.
“I concede to the house that this incident made me sick to my stomach, but more than this it made me angry.”
In his address, Mr Ward said he was “convinced Sholhaven hospital and Shoalhaven residents were not getting their fair share” and said he would not let up until the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard made a commitment of funding to the hospital.
“This forthcoming budget must respond to the calls made by myself, the member for South Coast [Shelley Hancock], clinicians, doctors and most importantly our community,” he said.
“I put the health minister on notice that the Member for South Coast and I will not be letting up until we see a satisfactory commitment from this NSW government.”
Mr Ward said Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital was no longer a ‘cottage hospital’ and this budget needed to start the process of an upgrade.
“Our hospitals should be a place people want to work and strive to serve,” he said.
“But facilities for surgeons and staff are simply insufficient and are one of the reasons cited by medical experts as to why the would prefer to work elsewhere.”
Mrs Hancock said the Shoalhaven was one of the fastest growing regions in NSW, with demand for health services steadily increasing.
“Now is the time to begin planning and prepare our local hospitals to meet future demand,” Mrs Hancock said.
“The NSW Government has committed more than $60 million to Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital in recent years including $10 million for the expansion of the carpark.
“However the hospital site is reaching capacity and we need to start seriously thinking about how we will optimise existing infrastructure and services, and complement work already undertaken by the NSW Government, to meet growing demand.”
The NSW State Budget will be released on Tuesday, June 19.