Labors Nicola Roxon and Janelle Saffin pictured yesterday at the construction site at Lismore Base Hospital, have committed $1
Labors Nicola Roxon and Janelle Saffin pictured yesterday at the construction site at Lismore Base Hospital, have committed $1

Labor rules out GP Super Clinic for !Lismore

By Alex Easton alex.easton@northernstar.com.au LABOR has no plans to build one of its 'GP Super Clinics' in Lismore despite over-crowding at Lismore Base Hospital, Labor health spokeswoman Nicola Roxon said yesterday.

However, Ms Roxon said the party had other plans that would ease pressure on the hospital, if it won Saturday's election, and left open the possibility of offering Federal funding to stage three of the Lismore Base Hospital redevelopment.

Ms Roxon was speaking outside the hospital, where she formally confirmed Page Labor candidate Janelle Saffin's commitment last week to boost the Federal commitment to the hospital's planned cancer unit from $8 million to $15 million.

Ms Saffin last week said the increased funding would have the unit finished by the end of 2009.

Nationals Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile has previously committed a re-elected Coalition Government to boosting Federal funding for the project by $2 million to a total $10 million, saying he was unable to get any figures from the NSW Government on what was needed to build the unit quickly.

North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford said he told Mr Vaile on a recent visit to The Tweed Hospital that the unit was expected to cost about $25 million and suggested the Coalition increase Federal funding for the project to $12.5 million or $13 million.

However, Mr Vaile told The Northern Star he could not recall that conversation but, even if he did, he had to get that information from NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher before he could commit millions in public money to the hospital. So far, Ms Meagher had said nothing, he said.

Mr Vaile agreed the Coalition hadn't let that stop it putting up $90 million for the Alstonville bypass when Labor made a similar commitment and the Coalition was unable to get costing details on the project.

However, he said the Coalition was taking on total funding responsibility for the bypass, so it wouldn't be handing money to the State.

Mr Crawford said the Coalition's extra $2 million for the cancer unit was not enough to accelerate the project.

Ms Roxon said because Lismore Base tended to take more serious cases than hospitals such as Grafton and Tweed, a GP Super Clinic would have relatively little impact on over-crowding.

However, Labor had a series of other programs that would help ease pressure, such as increased funding to clear elective surgery waiting lists.

Ms Roxon said North Coast Area Health Service officials had already asked Federal Labor for a commitment to stage three of the hospital redevelopment, which would give the hospital about 100 extra beds.

Page Nationals candidate Chris Gulaptis accused Labor of 'ignoring crises of its own making', saying the NSW State Labor Government had failed to allocate new beds to Lismore or Grafton.



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