New Campaign Video Released May 21st 2013

The Save Bulli ED Group were approached by WHY Documentaries in 2012 to produce a video about the fight to save Bulli Emergency Department and why the Emergency Department is such an important service to maintain. The video is an attempt to try and inform the community about why this fight is critical and to gain support from the broader community and community organisations so that the NSW Government cannot say this fight is simply a ‘special interest group’ concern. The video is complete and is going to be released on May 21st as part of the Neighbourhood Forum Meeting that is held at the Thirroul Community Centre from 7pm. The video will be on our site from Wednesday 22nd May 2013 for all to view. To keep this essential service the ENTIRE community and relevant organisations must stand up and be counted on this issue. To show your support sign the petition on the link

Thank you
The Save Bulli ED Group


Something Everyone Can Do to Help Save Bulli ED

Help maintain the community position on keeping Bulli Hospital ED open as a 24/7  Level 2, Emergency Department as endorsed by the July 2012 rally attended by over 5,000 Illawarra residents.

 Please sign our new petition at to let the decision makers know the community hasn’t changed its mind and is not happy with a 7am – 10pm Urgent Emergency Care Centre providing GP equivalent services 

The petitions will go to Ms Jillian Skinner, NSW Health Minister and Professor Denis King, Chair of ISLHD Board NSW Ministry of Health and Ilawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District

Northern Illawarra stripped of life saving services

Save Bulli ED Group

Media release : 31 October 2012    Bulli ED 2012/#18

Northern Illawarra stripped of life saving services


Residents of the Illawarra are being put at risk by the decision to close Bulli ED and replace it with a 7am to 10 pm GP type practice, says Alison Fettell from the Save Bulli ED Group.


What the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) Board has done, on the advice of the CEO Susan Browbank, is to remove a life saving essential service that we have had for decades. It is the only overnight emergency service available to the community of the Northern Illawarra. This service has been saving lives on a daily basis for years and should be upgraded. But now, based on manipulated data, the ISLHD Board has decided to strip us of our life saving overnight safety net, says Alison.


The ISLHD are trying to convince the community that providing a GP style service, NOT an emergency department at Bulli Hospital will be no different to what is being provided now. If this was not so dangerous it would be comical, says Alison. How can you say on the one hand that the service will now only treat GP like cases and will now only be open for 15 hours not 24 and at the same time say that “the service provided will remain at the current level”? Sounds like spin to me, says Alison.


The Save Bulli ED Group rejects the decision to close the ED on the grounds that; the decision WILL put lives at risk; will mean no emergency service available for the community after 10pm; and that the community has not only been put at risk, but they have been ignored. We also reject any changes to service delivery at Bulli that may mean job losses for medical and nursing staff that have served the community well, saved lives, and worked tirelessly to keep this service running over the years.


The Save Bulli ED Group put the Board on notice that the community will hold them responsible for any adverse health outcomes due to this nonsensical decision.


The community are being patronised, patted on the head and being told to just go away by the health service, the bureaucracy and the politicians, Alison said. Well we won’t go away, this is about community safety, and in fact we call on all interested individuals and groups such as the Miners Federation, NSW Nurses Association, P&C’s, Seniors Groups etc to raise their  combined voices in rejecting the latest plan for the Bulli Hospital Emergency Department.


Media contacts:     

Ms Caroline Colton, Co-convenor
Ms Alison Fettell, Convenor

Emergency access by 70,000 residents hangs in the balance – Local Health Board meets Monday to discuss future of Bulli E.D.

Save Bulli ED Group

Media release : 5 October 2012    Bulli ED 2012/#17

Emergency access by 70,000 residents hangs in the balance – Local Health Board meets Monday to discuss future of Bulli E.D.

The Monday 8 October meeting of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) will discuss the future of Bulli Hospital Emergency Department.

The Save Bulli Emergency Department group (Save Bulli ED Group) has submitted a detailed report to the Board ahead of this critical meeting, arguing the case for the Bulli Emergency Department to stay open.

“There are many, many reasons why the community needs this E.D. There are over 70,000 residents in the Northern Illawarra alone who need this service. And of concern to EVERYONE in the Illawarra is the pressure on Wollongong Emergency Department. We think more services are needed in the Illawarra, not less, and a real difference could be made if ambulances were allowed to take suitable patients to Bulli,” Alison said.

“We met with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District several times in the last few weeks and we think we’ve made some ground on the provision of services overnight,” said Alison. “But the community is also committed to keeping Bulli open as a real, functioning Emergency Department. They want to change it to something else – but this community WANTS TO KEEP THEIR E.D.”

An Emergency Department is highly regulated part of the NSW Health hospital network, with an assured level of services, defined protocols including triage, which is needed in emergency situations, and statistical collection. The community is committed to ensuring that Bulli stays an Emergency Department. We have an E.D. at Bulli now. Why should residents of the Illawarra lose another E.D. service when Wollongong E.D. is at breaking point?

“The community is very strong on keeping the E.D. and very much against renaming the service. Because we know very well that it’s not just about the name. It’s about the lack of accountability in these alternative models. As soon as you rename it, it drops off the E.D. network and there’s no assurance about what has to happen there – it will make life easier for ISLHD but it won’t provide the regulated E.D. type services that the community requires and expects,” said Alison.

“We’ve given them data, population figures, travel times, lots of reasons to support the community on this issue. We just have to hope and trust now that the Board looks at the submission and talks this through,” she said. “We offered to do a presentation, we’re totally dedicated to doing everything we can.”

Attachments: Bulli E.D. Group submission to ISLHD.


Media contacts:     

Ms Alison Fettell, Convenor, ph 0412 011 052
Ms Caroline Colton, Co-convenor, ph 0419 609 173

Hon Tanya Plibersek praises Bulli Hospital Emergency Department

Save Bulli ED Group

Media release : 28 September 2012    Bulli ED 2012/#16

Hon Tanya Plibersek praises Bulli Hospital Emergency Department

Save Bulli Hospital Emergency Department Group (Save Bulli ED Group) has recently received a letter from the Hon Tanya Plibersek regarding Bulli Hospital Emergency Department.

The Save Bulli ED group wrote to the Tanya Plibersek, Federal Minister for Health, and Sharon Bird, the local federal MP, seeking ongoing funding for Bulli Hospital Emergency Department. “We are trying our best to assist the local health district to secure appropriate funding to maintain and upgrade the Bulli Emergency Department,” said Alison Fettell, Convenor of the Save Bulli ED group.

Tanya Plibersek’s response includes a handwritten note saying:

“PS I had to visit Bulli Hospital myself with Anna as a toddler when we were on holidays down your way. They did a terrific job!”

Alison said Ms Plibersek’s response about the ‘terrific’ care provided at Bulli ED just adds further support to the community’s call not to downgrade the Emergency Department at Bulli.

“Bulli ED is an essential part of the Illawarra emergency services, taking the pressure off Wollongong and offering a shorter wait time when residents have less serious conditions. Proper utilisation of Bulli ED will take pressure off hospitals across the Illawarra,” said Alison. “The emergency doctors and nurses at Bulli are great with kids and they handle a range of unexpected but less complex health crises for Illawarra residents and their families, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Ms Plibersek’s response, sent back to the group via Ms Sharon Bird, includes the statement that ‘hospital service planning remains the responsibility of the NSW Government’. The NSW Government has devolved the planning powers to the Local Health Districts, and that is why the Bulli ED group has provided the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) with a detailed submission in response to their Draft Health Care Services Plan. “The ISLHD Board is meeting on 8 October and the Save Bulli ED group has offered to be part of formal discussions once the Board has had the opportunity to consider our submission,” said Alison.

Attachments: Letters from Sharon Bird and Tanya Plibersek; submission to ISLHD .


Media contacts:     

Ms Alison Fettell, Convenor
Ms Caroline Colton, Co-convenor

Update for Save Bulli ED supporters

Dear Save Bulli ED supporters

Just a quick update. As you may know we have met with Ms Michelle Noort, Director of Operations at the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD), 3 times over the last 7 months to attempt to get the ISLHD to listen to the community. Not a lot of success there – but we have kept at it.

Ms Noort made a few comments in the media recently that we had to respond to – which made it look as if we were prepared to discuss a lesser than 24/7 service at Bulli. We were not prepared to discuss that, and we made that clear. The ISLHD made the assumption then that we would not talk with them at all. This was not the case.

We wanted you to know that we have been – and continue to be – prepared to talk to the ISLHD as long as 24/7 is the basis of that discussion. Yesterday we spoke to a representative of the Board and Mr Arthur Rorris of the South Coast Labour Council, and Mr Rorris is happy to work with us on opening up dialogue between the Save Bulli ED Group – representing the community concerned about this issue – and the ISLHD. We also want you to know that we do NOT see ourselves as deal-makers, rather we will attempt to influence the ISLHD, and the politicians, to ensure they provide the best possible 24/7 emergency care at Bulli Hospital, in line with the model that was endorsed at the Rally on 29th July.

However we may be put in a position to either agree or disagree with an option that the ISLHD present – but if that happens we will consult the community to discuss any option put forward. That has not occurred to date.

The Save Bulli ED team worked tirelessly for weeks on our submission to the Board which was in response to the ISLHD Health Care Plan (which cost the ISLHD $400,000) and our submission was sent to the ISLHD Board on Friday 14th. We did not charge them for our skills!!!

We also attended Bulli Show last weekend for the both days (Sat & Sun) from 9-4 where we handed out fact sheets and a ‘Call to Action’. We disseminated 600 of these sheets over the two days so we really are hopeful that people will act on our suggestion of writing to our state politicians – Evans and Skinner – to influence them to provide the funds for Bulli ED to continue to run 24/7. The Show was a great success and the support for the Save Bulli ED Campaign continues to be overwhelming.

We hope that you consider contacting Evans and/or Skinner yourselves over the next two weeks as we believe that a decision on Bulli is imminent. The Board is meeting on October 8th and, in the team’s view, this will be the date of the decision.

We hope this update is useful and that you feel that you are being kept informed. If you have any questions please email us at the

Kindest Regards
Alison Fettell for
the Save Bulli ED Team

Community group to Save Bulli Emergency Department offers persuasive evidence to health board

Save Bulli ED Group

Media release : 14 September 2012    Bulli ED 2012/#15

Community group to Save Bulli Emergency Department offers persuasive evidence to health board

Save Bulli ED today sent a detailed submission to the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) on why it is essential to keep Bulli Hospital Emergency Department open, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The submission will be tabled at the next ISLHD Board meeting on 8 October 2012.

“We really appreciate the chance of putting a whole range of evidence forward,” said Alison Fettell, convenor of Save Bulli ED. “There are a range of issues that many people are unaware of. The ambulance by-pass of Bulli ED, for example – this contributes to bed block at Wollongong Hospital and affects everyone in the Wollongong region.”

The submission:

  • includes a recommendation that the ambulance “by-pass Bulli” order be rescinded, so that suitable patients can be taken to Bulli ED by ambulance, reducing bed block at Wollongong
  • addresses a situation where people are avoiding Wollongong ED because of its notorious waiting times but end up presenting with a far worse situation several hours later, and requiring hospitalisation, another example of how encouraging attendances at Bulli would reduce bed block at Wollongong
  • shows that the population of area has increased by 17% plus another several percentage points of international students since 1989; whereas the number of public hospital beds has increased by only 11% over the same time frame
  • reports on statements from the Bureau of Health Information that 2012 triage data being provided by the ISLHD for Bulli Hospital Emergency Department cannot be used as it is unreliable
  • seeks a guarantee that the “Emergency Department” sign outside Bulli Hospital will not be removed.

Numerous other points are also raised. The submission contains a range of evidence and perspectives to help the Board understand the current debate.

“Reinvigorating Bulli Emergency Department is the only rational solution to our current hospital bed crisis in the Illawarra,” said Alison. “We need more frontline emergency services in this region, right now!”

Attachment: submission to ISLHD Board.


Media contacts:     

Ms Alison Fettell, Convenor
Ms Caroline Colton, Co-convenor

ISLHD, please clarify your plans for Bulli Emergency Department!

Save Bulli ED Group

Media release : 7 September 2012    Bulli ED 2012/#14

ISLHD, please clarify your plans for Bulli Emergency Department!

Save Bulli Hospital Emergency Department Group (Save Bulli ED Group) today responded to recent media statements by the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) that services at the Bulli E.D. would “would not be downgraded” except for opening hours.

“We would really welcome a genuine assurance that the Bulli Emergency Department would remain open, but there are so many unanswered questions, things that just don’t add up,” said Caroline Colton, Co-convenor of Save Bulli ED Group.

“We haven’t been able to get any answers on several vital questions. Perhaps our journalists might find out, and tell our community!”

“ISLHD say that the Emergency Department is to remain unchanged except for opening hours. But:

  • ISLHD don’t want to call it an “Emergency Department”, they want to call it an “Emergency and Primary Health Care” centre. If the service is unchanged, what is this about?
  • In the Mercury (28/8/12) the ISLHD was talking about removing the “Emergency Department” sign? Why, if the Emergency Department is to remain open, would you take down the sign?
  • Why won’t ISLHD tell us if emergency doctors will be retained on site? We have met with ISLHD but haven’t been able to get any answer to this question — will our emergency doctors still be there?”

The Save Bulli ED Group has met with ISLHD but there has been no clarity given. Community frustration levels are now running very high.

“The Northern Illawarra community doesn’t agree with any form of downgrading of Bulli Emergency Department, whether to operating hours or otherwise” said Caroline. “The community concern is to keep the Bulli E.D. we have now — which is a fully-functioning Emergency Department, staffed by emergency doctors and nurses, and open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”


Media contacts:     

Ms Caroline Colton, Co-convenor
Ms Alison Fettell, Convenor

No spin and no smoke and mirrors — the Save Bulli Emergency Department role is clear

Save Bulli ED Group

Media release : 28 August 2012    Bulli ED 2012/#13

No spin and no smoke and mirrors — the Save Bulli Emergency Department role is clear

In today’s Mercury, officials of Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) invited the Save Bulli ED group to “help thrash out the details” of changes to Bulli Emergency Department which would remove both the lifesaving services of the ED and the overnight emergency services.

On 29 July, the Save Bulli ED Group was endorsed by the community at the Save Bulli ED Rally to lead the community’s fight to keep the Bulli Emergency Department open — 24 hours a day, seven days a week — and to work with the ISLHD towards this aim, including an upgrade of the facilities for the service that exists at present.

The Save Bulli ED Group stands for just that, to SAVE the Bulli Emergency Department – there’s no smoke and mirrors, no spin.

If the Emergency Department is lost at Bulli, with the Emergency sign removed, as mooted by Ms Noort in the Mercury today, this will not be the fault of the community, or the group leading the Save Bulli ED campaign — it will be a decision, and in our view a grave mistake, that will forever rest with the ISLHD Board and the bureaucrats who are advising them.

“The Save Bulli ED Group is happy to work with the ISLHD to develop a best practice model for retaining a level 2/3 Emergency Department at Bulli, and to assist in any submissions or proposals to lobby the government for funding to support that goal,” said Alison Fettell, convenor of the Save Bulli ED. “We have experienced writers, researchers, editors, sociologists and health administrators in the group who would be happy to contribute these skills to keep the ED open.”

“However, we have not been given a mandate from the community to concede to or help design anything less than an operational 24/7 Emergency Department. It would be remiss of the group and a betrayal of the community to help plan a downgrading. Officials say it isn’t a downgrade, but they admitted in the Mercury today that they plan to remove both lifesaving services and the overnight emergency services — if that isn’t a downgrade, what else would you call it?”

The community have spoken loud and clear on the need to retain the ED 24/7, and the ISLHD have been presented with the wishes of the community on a number of occasions. 

On behalf of the community, the Save Bulli ED Group will be presenting a formal submission in response to the ISLHD Service Plan directly to the Board in the hope that the community’s voice is truly heard, their endorsed model seen and properly considered, and their much loved and needed Bulli ED saved.


Media contacts:        

Ms Alison Fettell, Convenor
Ms Caroline Colton, Co-convenor