Lower Hunter Hospital will affect us all | LETTERS

HEALTHY INTEREST: Cessnock and Kurri Kurri advocates believe there is a strong case for constructing the new Lower Hunter Hospital closer to the Hunter Expressway.

HEALTHY INTEREST: Cessnock and Kurri Kurri advocates believe there is a strong case for constructing the new Lower Hunter Hospital closer to the Hunter Expressway.

CONSIDER KURRI KURRI

I have been involved with the Lower Hunter Hospital project for more than six years.

I was extremely surprised when Hunter New England Area Health and NSW Health nominated Metford as the preferred location.

I firmly believe this isn’t in the best interests of the broader Hunter community

The hospital was always touted to be a new 400-bed teaching hospital to take the load off John Hunter Hospital.

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago in Maitland that the then Health Minister Jillian Skinner let the cat out of the bag by stating that it was going to Metford and would be a replacement for the current Maitland Hospital.

Now, this was not ever an option and would result in a net loss of beds as they intended to shut the old Maitland Hospital.

A forum was held by, I believe, consultants on behalf of HNEH and NSW Health at Monte Pio at Rutherford after the statement from the health minister. From memory this would have been around 2014.

Kurri Kurri people secured 50 third-year Town Planning students do a comprehensive study of the Kurri Kurri district in 2010 with the announcement and subsequent construction of the Hunter Expressway.

Their conclusions were that an emergency services precinct and regional hospital should be constructed in the expressway corridor.

With the closure of the Kurri Kurri Aluminium Smelter in October 2012, some 5,000 acres or 1,800 hectares of land had been freed up for future development.

This would be a potential hospital site adjacent to the expressway on 40 hectares of greenfield land with zero contamination.

Our conclusion is that the Metford site has been ill thought-out and has many planning issues compared to a new site along the expressway corridor. 

Finally, the Hydro Smelter management I believe put in an Expression of Interest to have the hospital built on their land.

Rod Doherty JP

former President, Kurri Kurri Business Chamber

Currently elected Cessnock City Councilor

SAY NO TO PPP

A public forum, hosted by The Maitland Mercury on Monday, May 15 at East Maitland Bowling club from 6.30pm will shed more light on plans for the new Lower Hunter hospital.

Feel free to join other concerned residents of the community in a Q & A style panel discussion that will cover questions relating to the funding model, construction timelines and bed capacity.

We need to keep the pressure on to let the Government know that we need:

A fully public hospital (no Public Private Partnership); that is

Large enough to meet the needs of our growing community; and

We need it built now!

If you’d like to submit a question for the panel please visit the Maitland Mercury website.

Jenny Aitchison MP

Member for Maitland

TALK OF THE TOWN

I hope its going to be really easy access for disabled people. In my experience you can’t even get a wheelchair free at Maitland Hospital if you are disabled, as I am with osteoarthritis.

Anne Avery 

It’s a mess. A bureaucratic disaster, which will cost fortunes extra just to get the building process started.

I don’t expect the hospital to open within the next five years. It could also be ten.

And then it will probably be already too small for the need.

Rixta Francis 

 My question ... when are they going to stop pissing us around and build it?

​Michael Cross

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