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A rose by another name? The battle for Bulli’s ED continues

By MICK ROBERTS.

THE Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) have replaced Bulli’s proposed US style ‘Urgent Care Centre’ with a new name – an ‘Emergency Primary Health Care’ centre.

In the face of massive public opposition, the ISLHD have dropped references to a proposal for the “Urgent Care Centre” to replace Bulli Hospital’s emergency department. The latest draft health service plan had no mention of the term.

Save Bulli Hospital Emergency Department Group (Save Bulli ED Group) members met with ISLHD in an effort to shed light on what seemed at first as the scrapping of the plans. The Group came away bitterly disappointed.

“We had all really hoped that the health district had changed its mind,” Save Bulli ED Group co-convenor Caroline Colton said.

Based on their letter a letter to the Illawarra Mercury on August 15, the Group thought plans to downgrade Bulli’s emergency department had been replaced by a commitment to retain the service at its current standing of a Level 2 Emergency Department in the NSW Health network, albeit at reduced hours.

“But we found it was just a change of name. They still want to downgrade it. It’s so very disappointing,” Ms Colton said.

The only shift by the ISLHD was to rename their proposed model.  Michelle Noort from the ISLHD said at the meeting that the community had made it clear they won’t accept the term ‘Urgent Care Centre’. The emergency department will now be replaced with an ‘Emergency Primary Health Care’ centre.

“The health district was still unable to explain how this plan would impact on the community,” Ms Colton said.

“There was no detail. We asked if both doctors and nurses would be present. We asked what kind of treatment would be available. But they couldn’t tell us. So with a submission due on August 31, we will just have to respond in a very broad way as there has been no detail given at all.”

Mc Colton said their group hoped to take the details of what is planned – for example, what level of service will operate at Bulli – back to the community.

“But we don’t know any more than before,” she said.

On the positive side, Ms Colton said  further statistical data on ED presentations was provided by the ISHLD to her Group who will now work on preparing submissions on behalf of the community. The Group has also been invited to submit directly to the ISHLD Board by mid September.

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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