Rain rain, go away, but keep our hospital, protesters say
By RACHEL SCOLLAY
THE State Government copped plenty of criticism yesterday as several hundred people braved heavy rain in Coraki to march in support of their hospital.
The North Coast Area Health Service has signalled the possibility of downgrading Coraki to a GP-run clinic, but the majority of placards vented anger at the State Government.
'Cut Sydney's Fireworks, not our Hospital', and 'Close Something in Sydney For a Change,' were examples.
Clarence MP Steve Cansdell rallied protesters, leading chants of 'Bob Carr, you've gone too far' as marchers headed off from the riverfront to the hospital.
John Auckram created a 'Carr Ambulance' out of a vintage tricycle buggy which he'd had for years in his back shed.
"Carr ambulance. This is all you'll get," his sign warned.
"I thought it would be a real good time to get it out and highlight what's been happening," said Mr Auckram.
"It's certainly drawn attention to the situation. I'm suffering from camera flashes."
Coraki GP Rosemary Craig spoke out against any change to Coraki's hospital services.
"It's something we really need to fight to keep," she said.
Dr Craig challenged NCAHS claims the proposed changes would deliver better value for the Richmond Valley.
"Closing 14 beds in Coraki and opening six beds in Casino. I don't think that's very good value," she said.
"You don't have to be good at maths to see that".
Dr Craig said replacing Coraki's accident and emergency services with a 9am to 5pm GP-run service was replicating what was already provided by her own health centre.
She said she was not only a doctor, but had also been a patient, and the best care she had received was in Coraki.
Richmond Valley mayor Charlie Cox said displays of public anger could really make a difference.
"We fought a great battle years ago in Casino because people were prepared to go the full distance," he said.
"We've gone halfway. We've got another seven weeks to go."