In a recent letter to the Mercury, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District Board’s chairman, Clinical Professor Denis King, and its chief executive, Susan Browbank, attempted to ease the fears of northern suburbs residents by declaring that Bulli Hospital would not close.
The letter, written after a day of action and a sustained campaign from the Save Bulli ED support group, declared the health district was seeking funding for a redevelopment of the hospital to include an expanded aged-care service and a new palliative-care service.
It wasn’t the answer residents wanted.
Health authorities have said the number of patients visiting Bulli’s emergency department is too low to sustain full-time medical staffing and diagnostic capability.
That may be so, but surely at a time when Wollongong’s emergency department is bursting at the seams, an enhanced Bulli department could be made sustainable by taking some of the caseload off Wollongong’s already stressed staff.
We understand that Wollongong is and must remain the major trauma centre, but there are many cases that could easily be handled at Bulli without patients having to sit and wait for many hours.
To her credit, the health district’s director of southern operations, planning and performance, Michelle Noort, has agreed to include the Bulli lobby in deliberations that will help shape the future of the emergency department.
It will now be up to the lobby to convince the health district that it has a legitimate case for an expanded service.
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