Coraki protest at plan for hospital
By RENEE REDMOND
CAMPBELL Hospital is the latest victim of a 'Macquarie Street tsunami' which has rolled the train and bypassed Alstonville, Coraki radio announcer Roger Wood yesterday told protesters at the hospital.
More than 150 people gathered outside the hospital to say the North Coast Area Health Service should abandon its plan to close the hospital.
"We're expressing our extreme dissatisfaction in the Carr Government. The community built this hospital, and a lot of people have moved here because of it," Mr Wood said.
"There have been hundreds of stories where people's lives have been saved because they got to this hospital in time."
The protest was held in response to plans, announced last Friday by North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford, to take away 14 acute care beds and restrict the emergency service to daytime.
The plan, which would turn the hospital into a GPrun health clinic and a community health centre, would allow $2.3 million in health funding to be redistributed across the region, including a new Aboriginal health post at Box Ridge.
One of the protest organisers, Harmony Walsh, said funding for other hospitals should not be at the expense of Coraki's hospital.
"The hospital is part of the town. It would be like cutting the heart out of Coraki," she said.
Mr Crawford arrived at the hospital for a meeting with staff to be greeted by protesters holding placards and yelling 'shame on you'.
"We want to make the best use of funding and get the biggest bang for our bucks," he said.
Mr Crawford said the funds would be reinvested to provide high-level care for 'people knocking on death's door' at the Lismore Base Hospital and Casino Hospital.
Health service union representative Ken McIntosh condemned the State Government and the Department of Health for considering the closure.
"The decisions have already been made; the consultations are just smoke and mirrors," Mr McIntosh said.
"It's a blatant attack from the Government and Northern Rivers Area Health on a small community."
Mr Crawford said no date had been set for a public meeting on the plan, but one was planned for halfway through the 12-week consultation process.