Coraki to protest over hospital plan


CORAKI residents will today launch their first protest against a plan to close the town's centuryold Campbell Hospital.

The protest is designed to coincide with a meeting between North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford and hospital staff.

The health service has announced a plan to redirect about $2.3 million in funds, turning Campbell Hospital into a GP-run health clinic and community health centre.

The change would close the hospital's 14 acute care beds, but would increase funding for beds at Casino Hospital, for Lismore Base Hospital's emergency department, and for surgical services in Lismore and the Richmond Valley. The funds would also pay for a new Aboriginal health post at Box Ridge and pay for a non-emergency medical transport service in the Mid-Richmond.

Organisers yesterday predicted a big crowd for the protest, which starts outside the hospital at 1.45pm, ahead of the 2pm meeting between Mr Crawford and hospital staff.

Mr Crawford said the health service would begin calls for people to join a consultative committee on the future of the hospital this week.

A pamphlet detailing the changes and providing a contact number, email address and web address for people interested in joining the committee would be delivered to residents of Coraki, Casino, Evans Head and Woodburn about midweek.

Health Service staff were still setting up the phone number, email and web addresses yester- day.

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