News

Fight continues to stop Bulli Hospital downgrade

RESIDENTS have demanded more details on a proposed Bulli urgent care centre model, placing several controversial “questions on notice” on the table for Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) public forum on Thursday.

“What is an Urgent Care Centre? What are we actually being asked to comment on?”, Save Bulli ED Group convenor Alison Fettell said.

“In Victoria and South Australia Urgent Care Centres are largely privately-run, do not bulk bill and charge for extras such as Xrays, scans or even prescriptions. Is this what is being suggested for the Illawarra?”

The ISLHD proposal is to downgrade Bulli Hospital Emergency Department from a Level 2 ED. operating 24 hours a day to an urgent care centre operating for limited hours only. The downgrading of services, and loss of services overnight, has raised concerns among residents, and was overwhelmingly rejected by the community at an ISLHD consultation in March.

“I thank the ISLHD for suggesting we put some questions on notice, because we have serious concerns about this model,” said Alison Fettell.

The Bulli ED Group has tabled the following questions for Thursday’s forum:

1. Given that many urgent care centres in Victoria and South Australia are private practices which do not bulk bill and can charge people hundreds of dollars per visit, we feel that before residents can adequately respond to the urgent care centre suggestion they need to know what is the model actually proposed for Bulli – is it to be hospital run with no charge to patients; privately run within the hospital; privately run from private premises; or some other model entirely; and whatever model is used, will patients be charged?

2. The community is still confused as to the status of decision-making: the assurance at the March consultation that no decision had yet been made on whether Bulli Emergency Department was to become an Urgent Care Centre, repeated in ISLHD’s recent statements quoted on WINTV news last week, contradicts ISLHD’s own documents that imply the decision has already been made: can you please clarify urgently so that the community is clear on the current stage of decision-making?

About Mick Roberts

A newspaper journalist, writer and local historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in the Sydney and Illawarra regions of NSW for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides authoring a number of history books, Mick has owned and operated several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and is now with Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.

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