Minister keen to push mental health unit

COFFS Harbour's new Non Acute Mental Health Unit will not open until September, but yesterday it hosted its second visit from the NSW Minister for Health, Reba Meagher.

Ms Meagher also met Dr Marilyn Clarke, the hospital's fourth staff obstetrician and Australia's first Aboriginal specialist obstetrician. Ms Meagher's trip was to publicise the extra funding for local services provided by the State Budget.

The Minister said the $13 billion in 2008 for health funding represented almost one-third of the State's total budget and was the largest ever health infrastructure budget for NSW.

She said for the North Coast Area Health Service, this meant an investment of $717.7 million, which was $36.7 million more than last year.

This sum includes $24.1 million in capital works, part of which is $2.86 million to complete Coffs Harbour's $7.5 million Non Acute Mental Health Unit.

Other local improvements funded by the 2008 Budget include eight new acute care beds at Coffs Harbour Health campus and two new Emergency Medicine specialists to help manage increased demand in the busy Emergency Department.

One doctor began work six weeks ago and the other will begin work on Monday. A further $500,000 in funding has been provided to boost the number of Emergency Department nurses by six full time positions.

There are also three additional midwife positions, which have already been recruited, plus funding for Dr Marilyn Clarke's position as an additional obstetrician.



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