We have harped on in these pages for a year or more about the parlous state of Manning Base Hospital due to underfunding and lack of support from our former Federal Member and Minister for Regional Health, Dr David Gillespie who has disappointed many locally with his lacklustre support for MBH. He doesn’t live in the electorate and seems to only appear for “photo ops” leaving local anger aimed at State Member, Steve Bromhead.

And with critical staff shortages, no visiting specialists who want to stay because of the lack of facilities, not to mention a scathing and critical report from the Parliamentary Enquiry into the State of NSW Regional and Rural Health about the functioning of MBH.

Forster was Never Going
To Happen

The red herring of the Nationals whim to build a public hospital at Forster has been a thorn in the side of everyone involved with MBH.  As we have stated for months, a Forster hospital was never on the cards. 

Senior medical staff at MBH have long referred to the Forster hospital idea as a “thought bubble” from MP Steve Bromhead to garner votes time and again. 

In March this year the Nationals sent out a snippy press release from The Hon. Bronwyn “Bronnie” Taylor, Minister for Women, Regional Health and Mental Health, declaring  “Let me be clear – The NSW Nationals in Government promised to deliver a hospital at Forster and we will deliver on that promise.”

Subsequently the Nationals plonked down $20 million to do just that.

This has thrown a spanner in the works for everyone. 

While some hospitals adjoining our electorate are threatening to go it alone from Hunter New England Health, Dr Murray Hyde Page, Chairman of the Medical Staff Council Manning Base Hospital, has stepped up and pointed out that the recently finalised ten year Clinical Services Plan for our area does not include a new Forster Hospital. And one was never planned.

Dr Hyde Page says they have come up with a plan to speed up the upgrade to MBH with things more urgent than a new parking lot, and a collaborative program to work with Forster Private Hospital and the Mayo Hospital in Taree to provide Urgent Care and share the workload that will make things easier and smoother for patients as well as medical staff.  He is deeply concerned at the workload, stress and pressure everyone at the hospital has to bear, as the bottom line is that it affects patients’ health and outcomes.

Dr Hyde Page is a big picture thinker and says he is “…..deeply disappointed at the interference of the Nationals to seemingly score points when, if their $20 million was given to help speed up the process of setting the new Clinical Services Plan in action, it would be far more effective than fighting over a pipe dream for a Forster Hospital. While MBH received 100million dollars in the state budget, we need double that and we need it now! 

Another difficult issue concerning the state of play locally is the announcement in a Seven News TV segment as to the long absence of Mr Bromhead from Parliament and public events due to ill health, but that he is working from home.

While absent Mr Bromhead has subsequently recently been promoted twice with substantial pay increases as now Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Transport and Roads as well as being appointed to The Public Accounts Committee. 

While Dr Hyde Page and many others in the electorate are sympathetic to Mr Bromhead’s illness, many are critical of the situation given the low wages of nurses and frontline workers. ‘We are very sympathetic to Mr Bromhead’s health issues, but the healthcare for the community must be a priority,’ said Dr Hyde Page. 

Senior medical and administrative hospital staff and community action groups are anxious now to move ahead and resuscitate Manning Base Hospital as fast as possible. 

‘We want to be shovel ready asap. The health of the community must come first,’ stated Dr Hyde Page.  


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