With just $4 million allocated in the NSW budget for planning for the redevelopment of the Shoalhaven District Hospital, Independent NSW MLC and Shoalhaven resident Justin Field believes there is still time to discuss the possibility of the hospital being relocated to a greenfield site.
"There is only $4 million in 2020/21 to plan for the redevelopment of Shoalhaven Hospital and it was indicated a redeveloped hospital would not be completed until 2028," Mr Field said.
"The budget forecast opens the door for a much needed community debate about redirecting the $438 million investment towards a new greenfield hospital for the region."
Mr Field has joined increasing calls in the Shoalhaven community for the redevelopment plans to be revisited saying there is clearly time to consider the added community health benefits from redirecting this investment towards a larger and more appropriately located greenfield hospital for the Shoalhaven.
"Investment in the redevelopment of the Shoalhaven Hospital was announced by the NSW government before the 2019 state election with a promise for construction to start before the end of this term of government in March 2023," he said.
The budget forecast opens the door for a much needed community debate about redirecting the $438 million investment towards a new greenfield hospital for the region.Independent NSW MLC and Shoalhaven resident Justin Field
"While I think some people will be frustrated to see that a redevelopment hospital wouldn't be completed until 2028, the good news is that we have time to consider the long-term hospital needs for the entire Shoalhaven and consider redirecting the $438 million commitment towards a new greenfield hospital.
"It's pretty clear that meaningful construction on this project won't start by 2023.
"If it did, based on this year's budget forecast of completion by 2028, the community is looking at a five to six year redevelopment window.
"That has huge impacts on the delivery of hospital and emergency services.
"I think it's time to be honest and recognise that this election promise has been pushed back and that gives us all time to rethink what is in the best interest of the community for the long term.
"I've been convinced listening to local voices that there are significant issues with redevelopment on the current site, significant restrictions on future growth, enormous traffic issues for local residents and gaps in services that can be better delivered at a new site.
"It warrants further consideration now."
Mr Field said there is a precedent with the NSW Government originally announcing a redevelopment for Shellharbour Hospital before succumbing to community pressure and committing to a greenfield site earlier this year.
"A brand new hospital for Shellharbour is due to be up and running by 2025," he said.
The NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said at the time of that announcement - "When you're building on a hospital site, it's always challenging. You need the hospital to still be working and delivering services. If you can build on a greenfield site it will make a huge difference to what you can build and also to make sure there's no interruptions to the existing services that we have at Shellharbour Hospital."
"The same can clearly be said for the Shoalhaven," Mr Field said.
"We're a community of 100,000 people in the Shoalhaven and growing.
"A greenfield hospital offers us the best chance to protect current hospital services while building the services our entire region will need for the future."