‘Ramping’ adds to battle plan

- Tilley vows to look into Wodonga healthcare

BORDER paramedics’ battle to get patients admitted to hospital will be used in the fight for a new Albury hospital emergency ward.

The Border Mail revealed this week how ambulances were being ramped at the Albury and Wodonga hospitals for up to two hours because of bed shortages.

Member for Albury Greg Aplin said the issue was of great concern, and one he would use in his lobbying for either a new or extended Albury emergency ward.

Just yesterday Mr Aplin received a letter from NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner in which she said her department was liaising with the Victorian Health Department over possible funding for a new ward.

Mr Aplin said Ms Skinner’s office made it clear that Albury’s needs would be balanced against needs elsewhere in NSW.

“That’s how everything works, but we are right up there pushing for an expansion,” he said.

Mr Aplin said he, of course, asked for a commitment, which Ms Skinner could not yet provide.

Ms Skinner told Mr Aplin: “But it is still being considered as part of the NSW Health statewide capital planning process for future works”.

Mr Aplin said Ms Skinner indicated her department had received and accepted an invitation to submit a summary of the Albury proposal.

That required “a level of detail that will allow a review and comparison of the project benefits and needs of the community against other projects submitted by the local health districts in NSW”.

Up to three crews at a time are being marooned in Border emergency departments for up to two hours, a situation that had been continuing for several weeks.

The paramedics have been stuck, unable to accept new jobs, due to a lack of available hospital beds.

Mr Aplin said he would not hesitate to use this information “to add to my case” for state funding.

“Clearly these things do occur and they happen regularly in the capital cities,” he said.

“But we don’t want to see that on a regular basis.

“That would be my concern — to find out from the authorities whether it’s a continuing problem or a problem that has occurred that has happened because of a particular set of circumstances.”

Mr Aplin said it was blatantly clear the Albury hospital emergency department was built to accept far fewer presentations than what occurred.

“That is just not acceptable,” he said.

Mr Aplin said it had long been a priority of his to make Albury emergency an acute centre for the majority of ambulance cases on the Border.

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