Northern Rivers looks healthy

HEALTH was the big winner for the Northern Rivers in NSW Treasurer Michael Costa's third budget.

The Budget included $12.2 million for Lismore Base Hospital's long-awaited radiotherapy unit, allowing work to start on the unit by January next year with the expected completion date set for 2010.

Radiotherapy unit campaigner Marshall Fittler cautiously welcomed the announcement.

"If it's not going to be completed until 2010 I suppose that funding is realistic for the 2008-2009 period," he said.

"The groups involved in the push to get the radiotherapy unit fast-tracked will be keeping a very diligent eye on the work at the unit for the duration of the construction."

A total of $27 million is needed to complete the unit.

State Member for Lismore, Thomas George, called the announcement a 'big win' for the Northern Rivers community.

He also welcomed $2.9 million for a Rural Cardiac Catheterisation Lab Strategy that could see the establishment of an acute cardiac care laboratory in Lismore.

"Until now cardiac patients requiring special treatment have had to fly to Brisbane or Sydney," he said.

Other Northern Rivers health announcements included $480,000 to go towards a new ambulance station for Byron Bay.

Ballina Hospital got $3.5 million for the completion of a rehabilitation%unit.

The Budget also included $950,000 for the acquisition of land for a new hospital at Byron Bay. This money was left over from last year's Budget.

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