Health District chief makes palliative care promise to Goulburn

NEW DIGS: Southern NSW Local Health District CEO says the Goulburn community should be excited about the hospital redevelopment.
NEW DIGS: Southern NSW Local Health District CEO says the Goulburn community should be excited about the hospital redevelopment.

The local health service boss has given an assurance that Palliative Care would be adequately catered for in the Goulburn Base Hospital redevelopment.

Southern NSW Local Health District CEO Andrew Newton made the statement during a visit to Goulburn this week.

It follows community concerns about palliative care services at the new $120 million facility. It is currently delivered at the Bourke Street Health Service but will move when the new hospital is built.

Mr Newton said authorities would be looking at the best methods of care.

“I’ve come from Western Sydney (Health) where we had a brand new model of palliative care where there was the support for people and their families in the community to spend their final days at home and to make sure they were supported right through to the end,” he said.

“But equally, (we want to ensure) that people who require hospital based care have that...There will always be hospital based care for palliative patients and their families at Goulburn Base,” he said.

It comes as the Hospital’s community consultative committee lobbies for inclusions in the detailed design, soon to begin.

Chairman Jason Shepherd said there were no defined number of palliative care beds at Bourke Street. However his committee had managed to secure 10 beds at the new facility and another “flexible room.”

“We wanted to guarantee that the amenity and the overall feeling wouldn’t be lost so we spoke to the designers and managed to get lounge areas incorporated,” he said.

Mr Shepherd said his committee was lobbying the board for more money to include aspects that the community wanted. Some 10 areas have been identified.

One of those is a hydrotherapy pool. The pool at Bourke Street will no longer be available once the new hospital is built.

“There will be a gap there,” Mr Shepherd said.

“We understand it is not the Health Service’s core work but it’s still an issue if it’s not there for the community.”

He told The Post that although the council had factored a hydrotherapy pool into the Aquatic Centre’s upgrade, it was not until latter stages and could be some time off.

Mr Shepherd said the Health District was also undertaking a great deal of work on oncology services, the results of which would be released in broader consultation papers in February.

The CCC meets again early this year. Mr Newton will attend this meeting to discuss the committee’s suggested changes.

He said the committee’s input was very much part of the consultation process.

Andrew Newton dropped into Goulburn this week to provide an update on planning on the hospital upgrade.

Andrew Newton dropped into Goulburn this week to provide an update on planning on the hospital upgrade.

Meantime, Health Infrastructure NSW is preparing a development application for the new facility. The $95 million build includes a new four-storey acute clinical services building, an at-grade car park, landscaping and improved access. Once finished, it would be Goulburn’s tallest building.

Mr Newton said a portion of the $120m budget would be spent on “enabling works,” including high-voltage power and fit-out. He was confident the allocation was sufficient.

“We’ll be cracking on with planning in the early part of the year. It’s one of five redevelopments in the health service region but it’s the biggest. There’s a sense of excitement about it,” he said.

The health boss is happy with the way wards and services broadly link together in the new hospital but says this will be thrashed out more in the detailed design. This process will also consider models of care, ensuring “contemporary” standards.

“It’s a hard hospital to navigate and and it’s important we tidy things as we go,” Mr Newton said, referring to replacement of aged infrastructure such as water and gas.

He renewed his commitment that no services would shift from Bourke Street until the new facility was built.

Asked whether he was confident that future stages would fit on the hospital site if funding was forthcoming, Mr Newton said he was assured they would, given the vertical construction, which saved space, and the fact the campus would be tidied up as they went. A master plan had also demonstrated it could fit.

Bed numbers in the surgical and medical wards of the new hospital have also come under scrutiny. Critics say there is no significant increase despite an earlier clinical services plan projecting Upper Lachlan and Goulburn Mulwaree’s combined population would rise by several thousand to 38,750 by 2021.

Mr Newton said authorities would look at look at activity and population at the end of stage one and provide a business case to government for more beds in future stages if necessary.

“We (also) look at models of care and what is best for the community,” he said.  

Mr Newton has pledged to meet mandated nurse to patient ratios and said the health service would be reviewing its recruitment method, given mixed success in drawing staff to regional areas.

He said there was a need for nurses, doctors and allied health staff across the region and his number one priority was to scrutinise advertising and work on a coordinated strategy with councils and tourism bodies to promote attractions and housing affordability.

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