Passion may win help for hospital

By NEELIMA CHOAHAN

COMMUNITY passion could make the Murwillumbah District Hospital eligible for the Prime Minister's intervention, National candidate for Richmond Dr Sue Page said yesterday.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister John Howard announced shock plans to wrest control of a regional hospital from the Tasmanian government.

The proposal included establishing a trust, made up of community members, including medical professionals, for running the hospital. The Murwillumbah District Hospital Support Committee has said it would consider sending an SOS to Mr Howard should their plea for help to NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher come to nothing. Dr Page said she had approached the Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott for a possible takeover of the Murwillumbah hospital from the state.

"I have today secured the opportunity for Murwillumbah to apply for consideration for this type of Commonwealth funding," Dr Page said. However, she confirmed the federal government as yet had no plans to take over any other hospital but was willing to consider an application. Dr Page spoke to the Daily News during the National Party North Coast Taskforce held at Kingscliff Bowls Club yesterday. NSW opposition leader Andrew Stoner said the government had let the people of Murwillumbah down and they should try and get Mr Howard to intervene. "I encourage them (the Murwillumbah community) to go for it," Mr Stoner said.

Speaking on behalf of the Murwillumbah District Hospital Support Committee, Dr Alan Secombe said they would consider every option available to them.

"It would be unwise to dismiss any option which would be helpful in our aim to continue to provide appropriate health-care services to the people of the local community," Dr Secombe said. However, he said the current plan was to go ahead with the proposed meeting with the NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher in September.

Dr Secombe said he was hopeful of a good outcome from the meeting. Dr Page will address the Murwillumbah District Hospital Support Committee next week to forward a proposal by the federal government.

"We look forward to her comments," Dr Secombe said.



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