Health upgrade priority for Albury visit

THE NSW Health Minister will tour Albury hospital next month to assess the need for a new emergency department.

Member for Albury, Greg Aplin, has turned his lobbying into confirmation Jillian Skinner will visit on a date yet to be announced.

Mr Aplin said Mrs Skinner had told him her department was consulting its Victorian counterparts over funding options for a new service.

Mr Aplin said the demand for improved care and increased service provision meant he intended to push ahead for the expansion or re-building of the 20-year-old department.

“It’s clearly needed, it’s by no means meeting the future growing demand,” he said.

“My first step is to bring the minister to Albury to clearly examine the emergency site.”

Mr Aplin said the Albury emergency department was quickly becoming an acute centre for most Border patients delivered to hospital by ambulance.

He welcomed the imminent opening of four short-stay beds, but more were needed.

“It won’t happen overnight,” he said.

Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Dr Stuart Spring said a new emergency department at Albury was among three priorities for the organisation, alongside the reduction of surgical waiting lists and a new cardiology unit.

“It’s too small for its current workload and the technology and demand has superseded our ability to ensure we can go forward for the next 20 years,” Dr Spring said.

“My hope would be to increase the awareness by the minister of the problems for the future.”

Dr Spring said he also hoped to show Mrs Skinner the recent improvements to both the Albury and Wodonga hospitals.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase the wonderful things that have happened at Albury Wodonga Health,” he said.

Mr Aplin said he was hoping Mrs Skinner would be involved in the formal opening of the Fight Cancer Foundation’s Hilltop accommodation centre.

He said the NSW government had provided an initial $750,000 towards the centre, adding a further $120,000 so it would open without debt.