A COMMUNITY action group has made the bold claim that a draft plan to improve clinical services in Bathurst will not work.
The comment was made by the Bathurst Health Services Action Group in its submission on the draft Bathurst Regional Integrated Clinical Services Plan, which the Western NSW Local Health district (WNSWLD) called for public feedback on.
Spokesman for the group, Warren Aubin, told the Western Advocate that “the only ray of light” in the plan was that the need for a new acute ward for the Bathurst hospital had been identified.
However, he fears the high cost tied to the project may see it never eventuate.
In the action group’s opinion, one of the community’s biggest issues, people needing to travel to Orange for treatment, won’t be resolved.
“The draft plan is typically painted in broad brush strokes, full to the brim of words such as ‘enhance’, ‘improve’, ’embrace’ and ‘strengthen’,” Mr Aubin said.
“However, the draft plan fails on even a cursory view, given that it is clearly based on the assumption that the level of clinical services currently available at Bathurst Hospital is adequate, and therefore simply needs to be ‘improved’.”
He continued to say that the plan does not include “any specific, actionable or measurable goals”, other than the plan to create an extra ward with acute overnight beds in the next 10 years.
Mr Aubin also reaffirmed the group’s view that the proposal to improve orthopaedic services with a Tuesday and Thursday morning service would be inadequate.
“Bathurst is a sporting town, and to not have a 24-seven emergency orthopaedic service available is unacceptable,” he said.
Other concerns raised by the group include availability of specialist services such as gynaecology and anaesthetics, and the need for more beds, nurses and equipment.
Community members had until January 10 to make their submissions on the plan.
Prior to that date, the WNSWLHD’s director of Health Intelligence Unit, Maryanne Hawthorn, said the draft plan was based on a detailed analysis of the current and future needs of people living in Bathurst and surrounding communities.
“Our process has clearly identified some important and emerging issues for the Bathurst region,” she said.
“We have a population that is growing but also ageing, and there is an increase in chronic diseases. We have several vulnerable populations, including Aboriginal people, people in prison, and people with disabilities. Among young people, there is an increasing number who are also considered vulnerable.
“Addressing these issues will mean developing hospital services and looking at how we can work together to keep people healthy and out of hospital.”
The health district has said that the budget for the Bathurst Health Service in 2019-20 is more than $ 80.6 million.
In December, the action group met with the chair of the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) board, Scott Griffiths PSM.
At that meeting, he told them that he would pursue a master plan for the Bathurst Hospital, and the group is hopeful it will better address the needs of the community.