Health District CEO Chris Crawford
Health District CEO Chris Crawford Jay Cronan

Step closer to new Byron hospital

A NEW central hospital for Byron Shire has taken a leap forward with the local steering committee on Tuesday night signing off on plans for the Ewingsdale Rd facility plus expanded health services for Ocean Shores.

The plans for the 54-bed hospital, estimated to cost about $100 million, will now go before the Northern NSW Local Health District board this month for endorsement before the next rounds of planning get underway.

The plans include an "innovative" private day surgery to be co-located on the hospital site, allowing NSW Health to purchase blocks of surgery for public patients.

Health District chief executive Chris Crawford said it would be a boost to both public and private patients as a private day surgery in such a small area would not be financially viable without the investment of the public sector.

It would result in fewer people having to travel to Lismore and Tweed Heads hospitals for simple surgical procedures.

"It would be a definite expansion on what is already offered at Byron Bay hospital ... everything being done at Byron Bay plus quite a bit more," Mr Crawford said.

The steering committee has also devised a plan for a community health centre at Ocean Shores to boost services in the north of the shire.

It would likely offer "walk-in and walk-out services" like child and family services, mental health, counselling and physiotherapy.

"We could either build a new building (at Ocean Shores) or rent a building and set it up there," Mr Crawford said.

If the board approved the plans the next steps would include two stages of preliminary capital works planning plus funding work.

"Once the board endorses the services plan, we're over the first hurdle but we've got quite a long way to go," Mr Crawford admitted.

A centralised hospital for Byron Shire was recommended by the then NSW Health Commission in 1992.

The facility would replace Byron Bay and Mullumbimby hospitals.

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