Rally to save hospital emergency department

The Save Bulli Hospital Emergency Department Group (Save Bulli ED Group) make representation to the Federal Labor MP for Cunningham Sharon Bird (second from left) in their efforts to stop further downgrading.

AS the community prepares for tomorrow’s rally to stop further downgrading of their local hospital, data published by the Bureau of Health Information (BHI) shows that the Bulli Hospital emergency department is a life-saving facility.

A rally will be held from 2.30pm at the Bulli Masonic Hall to protest Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) proposal to downgrade the emergency department to an “urgent care centre”.

The Save Bulli Hospital Emergency Department Group (Save Bulli ED Group) have cited 2011 BHI data to prove that Bulli emergency department treats serious and life-threatening cases, despite claims by health bureaucrats that it does not.

Save Bulli ED convenor Alison Fettell said this will be one of the issues discussed at the rally tomorrow from 2pm.

“Basically, health bureaucrats use the argument that Bulli doesn’t treat serious or life-critical cases as a way to justify their cost-cutting plan to close the emergency department at Bulli and replace it with a so-called ‘urgent care centre,” Mrs Fettell said.

“Health bureaucrats have been telling our local MPs and the community, ‘oh well, Bulli only offers basic services, this proposed change will just recognise that.’ But the facts we have uncovered just don’t match that claim at all. The Bulli emergency department saves lives! The proof is in the data, and that data supports the stories we’re being told by the community.

“We’ve had dialogues now with both our elected MPs, Lee Evans and Ryan Park, and it’s clear that they’ve both been told that ‘Bulli is already operating as an urgent care centre’. It’s simply not true.

“We know that Bulli Hospital has a functioning emergency department – not an urgent care centre! Our research shows that an urgent care centre is – at best – an enhanced GP practice with slightly extended hours and a few more pieces of equipment. Life-threatening cases are not treated at urgent care centres, they are sent to emergency departments. Bulli Hospital emergency department is saving lives. We want to see it stay there to keep saving lives, operating as a public emergency department 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said

Woonona resident Anne Melano says she often hears the helicopters coming to Bulli Hospital to do airlifts.

“I’m told this means there’s an emergency where someone needs specialist units in Sydney like microsurgery and burns,” she said.

“Well, I’ve heard two helicopters in the last few weeks, and that suggests to me that Bulli is still treating very serious emergencies.”

The Bulli Times approached the State Liberal MP for Heathcote for comment on Bulli Hospital. However a spokesperson from his office said he was unavailable for comment.

2011 Bulli Hospital Emergency Department attendances by Triage Level

Triage level

No. of attendances

Immediately or imminently life threatening


Potentially life threatening


Potentially serious


Less urgent


Total 2011 Bulli E.D. attendances


Source: BHI quarterly reports



About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and 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 Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been 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), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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