Thomas George.
Thomas George.

Hospital stage 3 planning starts

PLANNING for Lismore Base Hospital's Stage Three upgrade has begun, a full year after the NSW Coalition promised it during last year's state election campaign.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Lismore MP Thomas George yesterday released a joint statement announcing the appointment of a planning team that will re-work what remains of the Lismore Base Hospital redevelopment master plan.

Aurora Projects has been named project manager, Hassell has been appointed as the architects for the projects and Altus Page Kirkland will be the project's cost manager.

The planning team is being funded through $10 million promised during last year's election campaign for Lismore Base Hospital and the a new Byron hospital at Ewingsdale. A planning team for the Ewingsdale hospital is expected to be announced mid-year.

The redevelopment of Lismore Base Hospital was announced back in 2003. It was initially expected the three-stage plan would cost a total $90 million, providing a new mental health unit (Stage One), a cancer unit (Stage Two), and a new emergency department, wards, and operating theatres (Stage Three).

Since then, the project's cost has grown substantially. A plan done late last year as part of a funding application to the Federal Government set the bill at $100 million for half the Stage Three project. The Federal Government was expected to announce next month whether they would help fund the Base Hospital upgrade.

A spokesman for Ms Skinner said the planning team announced yesterday builds on the work begun with the concept work last year.

The work was expected to take about 10 months and would involve detailed work on things such as clinical services and a business plan.

Mr George said the planning would include extensive consultation with nurses, doctors and other health professionals, along with local health bureaucrats and the broader Northern Rivers community.

He described the planning work as "a step" towards the Stage Three upgrade.

"We're only just out of the starting gates. We have a whole race to run yet," he said.

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