Plan to close children's ward is proving unpopular.
Plan to close children's ward is proving unpopular. File photo

Plan to close Mur'bah children’s ward met with backlash

A PLAN under consideration to close Murwillumbah Hospital's children's ward has sparked a political backlash with the issue raised in State Parliament on Wednesday.

Shadow Minister for the North Coast, Walt Secord said Northern NSW Health District bureaucrats informed hospital staff of the plan on Wednesday morning.

"In light of the $3 billion in cuts to health in NSW, will you confirm that the Northern NSW Health District this morning met with staff and announced that they had plans to close the children's ward at Murwillumbah Hospital?" Mr Secord asked a Question without Notice to the Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council, Mr Michael Gallacher, representing the Health Minister.

"This is what happens when a State Government rips $3 billion out of the health system; they close medical wards," Mr Secord said.

"Under the National Party, the health system is taking a pounding.

"As well as closing wards and driving up waiting lists for elective surgery, MPs like Geoff Provest are about to force parking fees onto patients attending the Tweed Hospital," Mr Secord said.

Richmond MP Justine Elliot condemned Lismore Nationals MP Thomas George for his Government's plans to close the Children's Ward at the hospital.

"Locals deserve to have access to their own Children's Ward when their kids are sick yet instead we've got Thomas George closing them down," Mrs Elliot said.

A Health District spokeswoman said it was being recommended that paediatric patients be treated in a newly created paediatric room in the hospital's recently upgraded emergency department, instead of the children's ward.

There had been a decline in the number of children admitted to the ward and over the last decade the provision of health services for children had changed significantly, the spokeswoman said.

"This is due to the development of a range of new treatments that enable children to be cared for at home for more illnesses that would have previously required admission to hospital for treatment."

A position paper on the ward's closure is being circulated until March 7 to encourage comment.

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