Hope for new hospital funding
With ‘positive' feedback from both the federal and state governments, the Byron Shire Health Services Community Action Group is optimistic funding will be made available for a new centralised 54-bed hospital.
Action group members recently met with the Federal Member for Richmond, Justine Elliot, who promised to support the push for funding.
“It has been a long, hard road and this is the most positive position we have been in for 20 to 25 years,” said action group member Tony McCabe. “We have the land, we have the ambulance service talking about building there and we have the support of both the federal and state governments. It's not hard to be positive about it.”
Ballina MP Don Page said progress was being made on the rezoning of the hospital site at Ewingsdale and he expected the new ambulance station to be built on the site in the first half of next year.
Mr Page said rezoning the land to accommodate the hospital should be completed by the end of this year and construction of the new ambulance station should start after that and take about four months to complete.
“Funding for the ambulance station is in the current budget and is expected to cost $1.4million,” he said. The location of the ambulance station – and the hospital – will have an eye to the future as the population of Byron Bay moves westward.
“The new ambulance station at Ewingsdale will be bigger than the current ambulance station at Byron Bay, again because the health planners are looking to the future.
“An important point in relation to future ambulance services will be to provide a second railway crossing that can be used in an emergency if there are traffic congestion issues at the current crossing.”
Mr Page said a NSW Liberals-Nationals government would give permission for a second crossing, unlike the current government.
He said while a master plan, geotechnical report and some traffic studies had been done for the central hospital site, there was still more planning to do.
“The service plan will need to be updated when the capital funds for construction become available,” he said.