Members of a NSW parliamentary inquiry heard further calls for the development of a new Shoalhaven hospital on a greenfield site in South Nowra.
Unions Shoalhaven secretary Patricia David gave evidence to the inquiry into health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional and remote NSW at a virtual hearing last week.
Ms David spoke to the current hospital system in crisis, with a dangerous shortage in services and a lack of resources causing failures in best practice.
"One of the main concerns people have when you are living in such a vast LGA like the Shoalhaven is the response times for emergency situations," she said.
"If the redevelopment [of the current hospital] is not due to be completed for seven to eight years, it seems ridiculous to not even consider a greenfield site further south.
"Shoalhaven southern areas are placed at a distinctive disadvantage and places like the basin area, Sussex and Milton-Ulladulla need to be included when planning service delivery infrastructure into the future.
"Shoalhaven hospital could continue to run uninterrupted while a new hospital is being built. Once completed, the old hospital site would remain fully functional, with specialist care, an extension on mental health care, drug and alcohol centres and more."
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Ms David said Unions Shoalhaven understood people were concerned a new hospital could delay the redevelopment of the existing hospital, but said those who lived on the southern end of the shire needed to have equitable access to services.
"We understand that the location of the current hospital has got the cancer clinic and a GP clinic, but we think this hospital can be built better as a new hospital in a bigger location a little bit further down south, with better access for people in the outlying southern villages and towns of the Shoalhaven, going all the way down to Milton-Ulladulla," she said.
"This gives them a better response time to get to hospital in emergency situations.
"For a community that is largely expanding, access in the southern suburbs needs to be considered, most definitely. That is our main concern."
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The inquiry into health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional and remote NSW was established on September 16, 2020.
It has held 11 hearings, with 150 witnesses giving evidence so far.
Most submissions and testimonies outlined a lack of staff, increased workloads, long wait times or distances traveled for treatment and an inability to access training for health care workers and services for patients.
The inquiry continues in Walgett next month.