Cost blow-out stops work on emergency unit

A PLANNED upgrade to Maclean Hospital's emergency department has been deferred for several weeks at least because the project costs more than originally thought.

The renovation has been delayed while the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) tries to reduce the plan's budget.

The new start date is now later this month or early next month.

In July last year, the NCAHS began looking into renovating the emergency department at the hospital. The upgrade was originally deemed to cost a maximum $250,000.

However, the NCAHS was told last month the predicted cost would be more than this, forcing the NCAHS to try and squeeze it back under budget.

If it cannot bring the cost below $250,000, the NCAHS will need to ask for more funding from the Health Department.

“If the work (was) to proceed as planned, the project will have to be submitted to the Department of Health for consideration,” an NCAHS spokesman said. If the NCAHS has to go cap-in-hand to the Health Department, it will further delay the start date.

The spokesman could not say on Tuesday by how much the project would exceed the $250,000 limit and would not speculate on the chances the funding would be provided by the NSW Government, but said the process was under way.

The delay has left at least one hospital user upset with health bureaucrats.

Neil Tollis, whose wife has been in and out of Maclean Hospital several times in recent years, said he was disappointed the work was not going ahead this week.

“The service from hospital staff is fantastic, but the back-up from the NCAHS leaves a lot to be desired,” the Gulmarrad resident said.

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