Bellingen Hospital Expansion fully funded

The publication of a Development Application for the construction of a 14 sub-acute facility & the announcement of $5million last week for our local Bellinger River District Hospital has lifted the spirits of our community.  We understand there is also additional on-going funding to maintain the service for the next 5 years.

The Mid North Coast Local Health District, Medical Staff Council, Nursing & Allied Health staff have worked tirelessly for many months towards this successful outcome.  They are to be commended.

We are indebted to those Doctors & hospital staff who had the vision and submitted a successful application to the Council of Australian Government’s National Health and Hospital Reform Funding under the Sub-Acute program.

The hospital will have 48 beds in total, the highest number since the foundation stone was laid on the 24th September 1902 & an additional 34.24 full time equivalent staff bringing the total number of full time equivalent staff to 57.54.

The Bellinger Health Action Group (BHAG) committee are very excited with the news.  We have been working in background towards this for months.  We can now proceed openly.  The Volunteer Gardening Group have indicated their willingness to assist with the landscaping & the BHAG committee will work closely with Bellingen High School to assist them with the relocation of the two demountable’s that will become a new Music Department.  We will be calling on the community to assist with this relocation with donations of equipment, materials, skilled & unskilled labour.  We will advise you at a later date what the needs will be.

Did you know that in 2002, the 4 demountable’s that were installed were to be replaced within 3 years?  Well it has taken 10 years to replace 2 of them.  Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 10 years to replace the other 2.

Our community has endured decades of downgrading, neglect, loss of services & plans to cut essential services at the hospital.  Under the new Local Health District & Local Board structure that was introduced by the Federal Government Health & Hospital Reform we are now to experience the changes of that ‘Reform’ in our own back yard.

What a wonderful Christmas present for the Bellingen Shire & a healthier future for our residents.

Bellingen Hospital provides health services within the local health network of hospitals.  These are Coffs Harbour, Macksville, Dorrigo & Bellingen hospitals.  Not only does each hospital service its local community but they have unique services that service the entire network.  The new Palliative Care beds at Bellingen Hospital are a unique service in the network and the Rehabilitation beds will support the congested service available at Coffs Harbour.  We have been advised that some existing services at Bellingen will also be expanded to service the network.

We have come a long way since the 24th of February 2010 when Andrew Stoner, Bellingen Councillors & BHAG sent a delegation to the then NSW State Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt.

Barbara Moore (Vice Chair BHAG)