Proposed Palliative Care bed moves anger community

A plan to move beds from Bourke Street Health Service’s Palliative Care unit to Goulburn Base Hospital was flagged in a meeting this week, the Goulburn Post understands.

The discussions were held despite massive and well-demonstrated community opposition to relocation of services from the Bourke Street Health Service until the new Goulburn hospital is built.

The Goulburn Post understands from separate and confirming sources that discussions were held on Tuesday night in which management proposed shifting the Palliative Care Unit to the Southern Area Rehabilitation Unit (SARU) “under a different model of care.” 

The Post also understands that a directive was issued to staff following this discussion to open palliative care beds in the SARU. 

According to sources, Goulburn Health Services manager Denis Thomas attended the meeting.

Member for Goulburn Pru Goward issued a firm statement reiterating her position that Bourke Street would not not close until the construction of the new hospital was completed.

Ms Goward said any if any such directive was given, it was not authorised by the Health Department.

“It is unacceptable that misinformation keeps making its way into the community about the Bourke Street Health Service,” Ms Goward said. 

“I will not stand for it. I have asked the Minister for Health to investigate the source of this latest falsehood. I hope there will be strong action.

“I stand with the community, patients and staff on this issue. Bourke Street Health Service should and must remain open until the new hospital is operational. I am assured by the department that it will.”

The Southern NSW Local Health District later issued a statement also rebutting any relocation of services from Bourke Street. 

“No decision will be made to reconfigure any services on the Bourke Street Health Service site until the new hospital is complete. The current services provided at the Bourke Street Health Service will continue unchanged and Bourke Street Health Service will remain open until the new hospital is complete,” the spokesperson said. 

Meanwhile, shock waves of the potential move by stealth of beds from Palliative Care to Goulburn Base have reverberated through the community.

Chairman of the Goulburn Consultation Consultation Committee Jason Shepherd said there is a need for more transparency and consultation. 

“I have not been informed officially of this via the Goulburn Consultation Consultation Committee (GCCC), however I am receiving reports from various sources that palliative care will be moving, oncology will move within 12 months and Admin will also be relocated,” Mr Shepherd said.

“As such, in my capacity as chairman of the GCCC I have contacted SNSW LHD to confirm the matter and gently ask for cool heads until we know what's happening.

“If it is true we need to commence open community consultation ASAP to ensure that services remain interrupted until tailor made facilities including parking, discrete access, family stay, donated equipment, etc. are in place. 

“It is vital that the community be brought into the planning process and agree with the outcomes before things are set in stone. 

“If this is true it confirms what the community and the unions have been fighting against, and highlights the local member’s spin with regards to the closure for the hollow words it now seems to have been.”

Outspoken Goulburn resident Fran Croft called for more transparency from the Southern NSW Health District Board over it. 

“We have asked for truth and transparency over Bourke Street and we thought we had it – but we were wrong,” Mrs Croft said.