Gulaptis announces $263m redevelopment at GBH
ALBA Linklater has been asking the community to help raise money for the hospital for more than 20 years as part of the United Hospital Auxiliary.
Yesterday, as Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis announced a returned Nationals government would commit to a $263 million upgrade of Grafton Base Hospital following a community campaign, she said she never doubted how strongly the community felt about it.
"It's just amazing but the community has always been very supportive and they'll be very supportive of this," she said.
Mr Gulaptis gave full credit for the pre-election commitment to the people of Clarence, citing the support of a petition as a major factor.
"Six months ago this wasn't on the government's radar but since I launched my petition for the unprecedented upgrade, there has been an incredible surge of local popular opinion that the NSW Government simply could not ignore," Mr Gulaptis said.
"This is a huge win for the Clarence Valley which future-proofs our health needs. With more working families moving here thanks to big job boosters like Australia's largest prison next year, it is critical we plan and build a hospital to cater for the next generation of locals."
The promised redevelopment will be in addition to the ambulatory care upgrade currently being constructed at the hospital and Mr Gulaptis said despite there being a long process involved in planning, he was confident work would start within the next four years.
"Not only do we need to get the infrastructure and facilities right, we also need to look at the services and health workforce to best serve the residents of the Clarence Valley," Mr Gulaptis said.
"This is about planning for and supporting the health needs and well-being of the Clarence Valley over the next few decades and I will work with health professionals, as well as members of the community, to make sure we get the hospital we deserve."
Dr Allan Tyson said at the announcement yesterday that many in the Clarence had seen improvements in other areas and had felt left behind.
"Through Chris' good lobbying and a lot of other people around, we've put the case to the department and they've accepted that," he said.
"There is a master planning process in place, the big area in particular is mental health, which is really a big thing for people in this community ... and people in this area understand that the mental health of our district needs to change but to do that the rest of the facility needs to be brought up to scratch."
Dr Tyson said the hospital building was "quite elderly", with the bottom floor of the hospital built in 1905, the Watman block upstairs in 1947 and the last time wards were changed was in 1979.
"I thank everyone but we need to keep everyone honest and need this to be delivered," he said.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Steve Cansdell welcomed and supported the commitment the government had made and said that in possibly holding the balance of power after the election they would fight for the hospital.
"We will force the government to commit to this in the next term of government," he said.
Shadow minister for health Walt Secord said via a press release after eight years of neglect and three weeks from a state election, the Nationals were scrambling to make announcements to fix a crumbling health and hospital system like Grafton Base Hospital.
Labor candidate for Clarence Trent Gilbert echoed the comments and questioned whether the commitment was real.
"This doesn't include any time frame and I question whether it's real at all," he said.
Mr Gilbert said many people in the community had commented to him the hospital needed to be updated for a long time but refused to say whether a Labor government would also support the redevelopment.
"At this stage, we'll be focusing on the broad commitments we've made in health, including increasing nursing numbers," he said.
Who will you vote for in the seat of Clarence at the 2019 NSW Election?
This poll ended on 22 March 2019.
STEVE CANSDELL - Shooters, Fishers and Farmers
GREG CLANCY - Greens
TRENT GILBERT - Labor
CHRIS GULAPTIS - Nationals
THOM KOTIS - Sustainable Australia
DEBRAH NOVAK - Independent
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.