THE Border Medical Association is firmly behind a single campus hospital servicing Albury-Wodonga and surrounding areas.
The united stance on abandoning the present two-hospital model which has operated since the creation of Albury Wodonga Health 12 years ago narrows the long-term health needs solution down to a greenfield option or redeveloping Albury or Wodonga hospitals.
Albury and Wodonga campuses both have constraints to expansion, but the BMA stops short of backing the greenfield option, which could potentially cost close to $1 billion, and will await the release of a crucial master-planning study already under way.
BMA president Barb Robertson said patient safety was the foremost consideration in supporting a single site solution.
"We can't continue to shuttle patients back and forth across the border," she said.
"We can't continue to be stretching our medical and nursing resources.
"Things are getting worse because we are trying to run two hospitals beyond their capacity.
"We cancel patients every day because there are no beds to put them in. It's a horrible situation.
"The community has to understand this is all about patient safety."
The BMA played a role in creation of a soon to be released clinical services plan for AWH before attention swings to long-term health infrastructure needs.
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The NSW government recently allocated $300,000 to complete the master-plan
In a perfect world, the BMA would like to see a replica of the John Hunter Hospital model at Newcastle on the border.
"We've been happy that we've been able to put forward that clinicians feel we should have a single hospital," BMA board member David Clancy said.
"Given the infrastructure is not fit for purpose at either campus it would be consistent to say we need a new hospital whether it be at a current site or another location.
"We can't plan on piecemeal or patchwork options."
The BMA's justification for a single site is also supported by the most up to date health date for the service.
According to the AWH 2019-20 annual report, 328 patients waited more than 24 hours in the emergency departments of the Albury and Wodonga hospitals with the bulk of them in Albury.
The average annual transfers of patients from Wodonga to Albury is 1270 between July 2017 to December last year.
As at December 31 last year the total number of patients on the elective surgery waiting list 2300 with the total regional number 7737.
BMA members including Dr Phillip Steele have also been involved in the preliminary discussions on future health needs as part of the Albury-Wodonga Regional Deal, which has the backing of federal, state and local governments, and due for release mid-year.
"We need to be looking really hard at what Albury-Wodong is going to look like in 30 to 50 years," he said.
"It is a big regional city now, but it is going to be an even bigger regional centre then."
The BMA has also been monitoring the mega merger saga which commenced when member for Benambra Bill Tilley said an investigation into a merger of Albury-Wodonga, Wangaratta and Benalla health services was underway.
"My belief is if there is something you can do that can look at improving the allocation of resources for specialist services for the border and North East while preserving the leadership role Albury Wodonga Health plays then do your due diligence," Dr Clancy said.
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