The Murrumbidgee Local Health District has failed the Deniliquin region. That was a clear message to come out of a local visit from Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Saturday.
The Deniliquin Hospital is not on the radar of these regional state government bureaucrats, and has not been for a long time. Their priority is Wagga and Griffith and the southern part of their region is ignored.
The issues around the need to upgrade Deniliquin Hospital were raised by health advocates in the lead-up to the March state election, but were never taken seriously by The Nationals or Coalition Government.
Services have declined to such an extent that a vast range of simple procedures can no longer be carried out at our hospital. The bureaucratic mantra for Deniliquin Hospital is “avoid risk at all costs”, even if this compromises patient care.
The Premier’s visit needs to be ‘line in the sand’ time. We have no doubt the Murrumbidgee Local Health District will defend its position, leading the defence with the government’s pre-election commitment to upgrade the front entrance and emergency department. But these are mere band-aid treatments to a far more serious problem.
Edward River Council, in its new advocacy strategy, is calling for an immediate assessment of the existing hospital site, leading to redevelopment or relocation with an estimated price tag of $40 million to $60 million.
Minister for Health Brad Hazzard needs to include a trip to Deniliquin on his itinerary in the near future to get a first hand account of the appalling decline in our hospital that has occurred under successive state governments.
We have no faith in the ability of the Murrumbidgee Local Health District to adequately advocate on our behalf. Its record is one of scant regard for this community and we believe the only way this will change is if remedial action becomes a clear ministerial direction.
Various areas of concern were highlighted to the Premier during her visit, with water, health and education at the top of the list. Each, in its own right, needs state government attention.
Fixing our ailing Deniliquin Hospital must become a NSW Government priority. The Premier has continued to highlight the excellent state of the budget, and this is being used to improve infrastructure and services.
It is Deniliquin Hospital’s turn to be the beneficiary of substantial government funding.