A patient at Ballina Hospital.
A patient at Ballina Hospital. Contributed

'Immediate improvements' planned for Ballina hospital

UPDATE Monday 3pm: THERE will be "immediate improvements" to seating arrangements at Ballina hospital's emergency department waiting room after a patient was photographed lying on a footpath.

Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD) management sent a statement to The Northern Star on the issue this afternoon, saying improvements will provide additional capacity to accommodate patients awaiting treatment.

The health district's acting chief executive, Lynne Weir, said the works were scheduled to be completed within the next fortnight.

"Over the last 10 years, Ballina and District Hospital has received over $25 million in federal and state funding for capital works projects," Ms Weir said.

"Upgrades to multiple departments within the hospital have improved services for the particular health care needs of patients in the Ballina and North Coast region.

"Work is currently nearing completion on Stage One of a $6.3 million upgrade to the Medical Imaging Unit and operating theatres at BDH.

"Improvements to Medical Imaging include a new CT scanner and ultrasound services. These are expected to become operational within the next month.

"Stage Two advanced planning for the additional operating theatre is well underway, and is scheduled to be completed in 2018."


SUNDAY 1pm: SHADOW Health MP Walt Secord has called on the incoming NSW Premier to "sack" Health Minister Jillian Skinner after a Ballina Hospital patient was photographed lying on a footpath.

Mr Secord said the photograph showed "a patient forced to lie on the concrete outside the facility in 35 degree temperatures" due to the lack of Emergency Department beds.

The hospital says the patient in the photo had already been treated and discharged from the hospital and had been waiting for transport home. 

The photo was taken on New Year's Day by Ballina resident Maralyn Sweeney, who also complained to the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) and Mrs Skinner over the incident.

Mr Secord labelled the events "unacceptable" and called for Mrs Skinner to be sacked with the reshuffling of the NSW State Government's cabinet following on from Premier Mike Baird's resignation.

"This is the latest example of a hospital in crisis," Mr Secord said.

"Patients wait at every stage. They wait for an ambulance; they wait outside an emergency department; they wait at the emergency department and then discharged too early to make way for another patient.

"Mrs Skinner should go, she's presided over so many scandals and crisis's and it's time for her go.

"We're making a last minute appeal to the newly incoming Premier to appoint a new Health Minister."

The NNSWLHD and Mrs Skinner's office were contacted for comment in response to Mr Secord's claims.

In response, NNSWLHD chief executive Lyn Weir rejected claims the patient was waiting for a bed in the ED.

"The patient seen lying on the ground outside BDH on New Years' Day had been treated earlier in the day in the ED before remaining in the unit for observation," she said.

"At the time the photograph was taken, the patient had already been discharged from the ED, had left the department and was waiting to be collected to return home."

Ms Weir also told ABC North Coast the ED was "earmarked as an area that would be redeveloped".

A quarter, or 25.3% of patients, wait longer than four hours for treatment at the Ballina Hospital's emergency department, which sees 15,000 patients a year.

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