Demolish homes to expand hospital
HOMES close to the Tweed Hospital would be bought up and knocked down to make way for a major hospital expansion if Labor candidate for Tweed, Reece Byrnes, has his way.
Mr Byrnes, who is challenging sitting National Party MP Geoff Provest for the seat, told a Tweed Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting yesterday he favoured purchase of surrounding houses to allow for extensions to the hospital.
The proposal astounded Mr Provest and Greens Party candidate Andrea Vickers, who both attended the same meeting, and felt bulldozing homes was unnecessary.
Mr Provest said the hospital could go upwards to six storeys and had other land that could be built on, while Ms Vickers said satellite community clinics around the Tweed and the Murwill-umbah hospitals could handle day surgery, minor accidents and some specialist care.
Mr Byrnes said he had raised the possibility of buying houses near the hospital as a way of “getting a debate in the community” regarding the idea.
“There are a lot of options we could look at including a new greenfield site and the university building,” he said in reference to recent revelations that the Southern Cross University, which has premises adjacent to the Tweed Heads Civic Centre, planned to shift operations to its Bilinga campus.
“I'm not advocating for resumption or anything like that. Over the years you could acquire and buy up houses if they needed to expand.
“There's still the option of a new site. It just depends on how Tweed expands.”
Mr Provest said it was not room for expansion that had been lacking at The Tweed Hospital but planning and money.
“There's a big footprint there,” he said.
“Back in the '90s (when Mr Provest was general manager of the Tweed Bowls Club) I participated in a planning session with Northern Rivers Health, the council, the bowls club and St Cuthbert's Church about the future of the hospital.
“We pushed hard for that area to be rezoned for six storeys. That site can go up.”
Mr Provest said the Labor Government had ignored planning for the hospital to the stage where last year “we treated 1200 people in corridors”.
“Yet we have the Murwillumbah Hospital running at 75%,” he said.
Ms Vickers said she favoured “satellite clinics and a broader preventative health strategy.”
She said the area needed “better cross-border co-operative health arrangements to take advantage of a teaching hospital on the Gold Coast.”