The future of Bulli Hospital is now in the hands of health experts, and the deadline for residents to have their say has gone.
Keira MP Ryan Park made a last-ditch plea for the emergency department to be upgraded to "take the pressure off Wollongong Hospital".
The health district has held information sessions at Wollongong, Shellharbour and Nowra for residents to give feedback on it's draft health plan for 2012-22.
The next step is for medical professionals to be consulted before a decision on the distribution of resources and services throughout the Illawarra and Shoalhaven.
Mr Park said yesterday it was becoming clearer each day, "especially with concerns now being raised by paramedics and other health professionals about bed block at Wollongong and Shellharbour", that Bulli needed to be upgraded.
"The community doesn't expect another Wollongong Hospital to be created at Bulli. But what they do expect is for those illnesses and injuries that can be treated at an upgraded ED to be handled at Bulli, taking pressure off Wollongong and improving access to health services," he said.
The draft plan noted Bulli had averaged just two emergency patients a night in the 2011-12 financial year, which was "too low for sustainable medical staffing and diagnostic capability 24 hours a day, seven days a week".
Mr Park said the only reason patient numbers were too low was "the lack of investment and the fact that every other week there is a public announcement to say the facility is closed".
"The upgrade at Wollongong Hospital is years away and without an urgent investment in Bulli Hospital we are going to continue to see the problems currently experienced by patients seeking medical attention in the Illawarra," he said.
The health district's director of southern operations, planning and performance, Michelle Noort, has offered the Save Bulli ED Group an extra chance to help shape the future of the hospital.
But the group's convener, Alison Fettell, knocked back the offer, saying the group would not compromise on its stance to have a 24-hour emergency department.
The group has until mid-September to make its submission.