Govt ‘deaf’ to Bulli ED pleas

The fight to save Bulli Hospital’s 24-hour emergency department will continue.

Save Bulli ED Group co-convener Caroline Colton said the health services and the government needed to take a leaf out of the lobby group’s book and act on the wishes of the community.

‘‘The community have had this hospital for 130 years so they know how valuable it is,’’ she said.

‘‘The issue of closing the emergency department at Bulli Hospital hasn’t been put before the people in a state election.

‘‘The more than 500 people at our rally were adamant they wanted to keep the emergency department. Why aren’t the voices of the people being heard?

‘‘The expectations that we would enter into negotiations with the health services in order to negotiate a downgrade ...  that’s not what the people want.’’

The health district’s director of southern operations, planning and performance, Michelle Noort, told the Illawarra Mercury the level of care at Bulli would not be downgraded.

‘‘We are looking to improve the service to give the community a greater level of service delivery,’’ she said.

Ms Noort said the hospital did not have the capacity to provide major lifesaving services and said the difference between the district’s vision and lobby group’s demands ‘‘comes down to hours’’.

‘‘It’s whether the service is 24 hours a day, seven days a week or operating from 7am to 10pm,’’ she said.

 ‘‘As a health district the challenge is to see how best we can share our resources among all our residents.’’

The first draft of the health district’s plan for 2012-22 noted the number of emergency patients turning up at Bulli in the 2011-12 financial year was ‘‘too low for sustainable medical staffing and diagnostic capability 24 hours a day, seven days a week.’’

Bulli Hospital has averaged two emergency patients a night, making it difficult to attract the specialist doctors needed to run a 24-hour emergency department. As a result the hospital was regularly forced to redirect patients to Wollongong.

Ms Colton argued these statistics ‘‘were inadequate and did not paint a true picture’’ of the service capability.

‘‘Futhermore there is nearly 73,000 people in the catchment area for Bulli Hospital. If the situation is so critical at Wollongong ED, why on earth would you shut down an emergency department of a district hospital that has a catchment as large as that,’’ she said.

‘‘It would make more sense to actually upgrade the facility.’’

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