Private interest in rehab unit confirmed
Brisbane Waters Private Hospital has made a proposal to take over of the closed Woy Woy Hospital rehab unit to run its own rehabilitation service.
However, Central Coast Health Service has said no discussions had been held with the private hospital.
The proposal was revealed after a meeting between Member for Gosford Ms Marie Andrews and several representatives from the Anglican Parish of Woy Woy and Central Coast Health general manager Mr Matt Hanrahan on February 25.
The revelation adds weight to community criticism of the closure and the argument that the service is viable in its own right.
Anglican Parish of Woy Woy Rector, the Reverend Penny Jones, said after the meeting that it was confirmed to representatives from the Anglican Parish of Woy Woy that the private hospital had shown interest in taking over the unit to run its own rehabilitation service.
"However, Central Coast Health Service said no discussions had been held with the private hospital and there was no intention of turning the public hospital into a private hospital," Ms Jones said.
"We also asked about the ongoing commitment of the health authority to the after-hours service available at Woy Woy Hospital and were reassured support of this service would continue so long as GPs were prepared to do so.
"We were advised that the options for post-hospital care in the community are expanding and that this or transitional care may well take the place of rehab for patients who do not require this intensive therapy.
"We were also told that the decision to move the rehab was founded on the advice of a team of clinicians, including nurses and physios as well as doctors, who believe that the best place for rehabilitation to occur is in conjunction with an acute hospital."
Ms Jones said the question was put forward to government members as to why Woy Woy Hospital could not be upgraded to an acute hospital.
"It was explained that with limited funds, and the expense of acute facilities, it was not a good use of taxpayers' money to have four emergency departments on the Central Coast, but better to concentrate these at Gosford and Kanwal where Wyong Hospital is located," Ms Jones said.
"Concerns were then raised about the use of the existing, presently empty, facility and reassurances were given that the best possible alternative uses for the site were being sought."
Ms Jones said the meeting was a good opportunity to voice the community's concerns at the closure of the facility.
"We were able to voice our concerns at the closure of an essential facility and expressed dismay at the speed of the decision and the failure of representative government to consult with the community," Ms Jones said.
"We also raised many questions about the adequacy of the Wyong Hospital unit located at Kanwal, so far from public transport at Wyong, and about the limits this placed on the ability of family and friends to visit and provide active support to the often difficult process of rehabilitation.
"We questioned the nature of the Transitional Care Unit now in place and pointed out problems of funding for those needing to use this unit.
Meanwhile, State Shadow Minister for Health Ms Jillian Skinner and Shadow Minister for the Central Coast Mr Chris Hartcher continue to attack the Labor Government for the rehab ward closure.
"Health minister John Della Bosca should be ashamed of himself, closing frontline hospital services in his own local area," Ms Skinner said.
"John Della Bosca's decision to close Woy Woy rehabilitation ward makes no sense."
Ms Skinner referred to the May 2007 report issued by Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service which stated: "The current 15-bed rehabilitation ward at Woy Woy Hospital should be expanded to 30 beds".
The report also stated: "Expansion of the Woy Woy rehabilitation ward from 15 to 30 beds should be accompanied by the recruitment of an additional rehabilitation physician and an advanced trainee in rehabilitation medicine registrar".
Mr Hartcher said only an incompetent State Labor Government would close a rehabilitation ward in an area whose population is rapidly ageing.
"Woy Woy rehabilitation patients, who are already in need of treatment for their frailty, are now carted in buses to Gosford eating into valuable treatment time," Mr Hartcher said.
"Even the State Government's own report states: "the amount of time spent travelling [is] impacting on actual therapy activity".
"The Health minister should explain why he thinks Woy Woy is better off without its rehabilitation ward."
Members of the Anglican Parish of Woy Woy will hold another community meeting at St Luke's Church in Blackwall Rd, Woy Woy, from 2pm on Saturday, March 14.
All members of the community are welcome to attend.