Fears held for future of hospital
THE future of the Campbell Hospital at Coraki looks bleak, with the doors to remain shut until a "clinical services plan" has been developed.
In a statement released last night, the Northern NSW Local Health District board again deferred a final decision on when, or if, the hospital will reopen.
The 14-bed hospital was closed in September after the roof was damaged in a storm.
It was further damaged in another storm the following month.
Health district board chair Hazel Bridgett said they would "assess the health needs" of Coraki and its surrounding community "by developing a clinical services plan".
"The Local Health Board will not be making any final decisions regarding the provision of clinical services to the Coraki and surrounds population until it receives and discusses the clinical service plan that will be developed," she said.
For now, the "present status of Campbell Hospital will remain unchanged" - meaning the hospital will stay closed.
It was not known how long it will take to develop the service plan.
Ms Bridgett also said the hospital's infrastructure was "aged and weak and does not currently provide an optimum environment for the delivery of health services".
Coraki-based doctor Rosemary Craig said it was becoming clear the long-term plan was to close the hospital for good.
"It basically looks as if they were lying when they said there was no plan to close the hospital," she said.
"I think it just shows that the health district board does not re- spect the people of Coraki.
"I could take a year or two to get this clinical service plan implemented and assessed.
"It's a long time to do nothing; it gives plenty of time for a lot of people to die. The decisions are being made by people who have no personal interest in the town.
"It is dehumanising health care and it is very disappointing."
But a spokeswoman for the Northern NSW Local Health District denied the report meant the hospital would close.
She said the decision to defer a decision was taken at a health service board meeting, attended by chief executive Chris Crawford, at Grafton yesterday.
The spokeswoman conceded the board meeting included no representatives of the mid-Richmond community that would suffer the impact of any decision to permanently close the hospital.
However, she said the steering committee being put together to decide the fate of health services around Coraki would include members of the mid-Richmond community that relied on Campbell Hospital and had fought so long against its closure.
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