Save BulliED Convenor Alison Fettell today issued the following media release that the group will fight to save Bulli Hospital Emergency Department.
Save Bulli ED Group
For immediate release – Bulli ED 2012/#1 – 17 May 2012
“We’ll fight for Bulli Hospital Emergency Department”
Frustrated residents have put Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) on notice. The Save Bulli Hospital Emergency Department resident group (Save Bulli ED Group) today demanded the health district engage in true consultation. They claim the community has been excluded from decision making and accuse the health district of downgrading Bulli Hospital Emergency Department by stealth.
The ISLHD core values include “Respect – … Listening is as important as talking. Everyone can make a contribution”. However, even the ISLHD’s own consumer advisory group was told about proposals for Bulli Hospital only after the Illawarra Mercury broke the story.
Several months later, the ISLHD proposal for Bulli was released at a poorly-advertised community consultation held by ISLHD in March. Their new model was overwhelmingly rejected by every member of the community who was present.
This new model involves downgrading or closing the current 24-hour Bulli Emergency Department. Instead, an urgent care centre in Bulli would treat simple conditions during the day and early evening only. A community consultation process was also announced at the same meeting.
“They said they wanted to downgrade the Bulli Hospital Emergency Department in the very same breath as they promised a consultation process about its future,” Save Bulli ED convenor Alison Fettell said today. “They said they would consult the community, but it seems they’ve already made up their minds.”
Community members have now been further angered by being told that a ISLHD consultation planned for 24 May (9 am Endeavour Hall 84 Church St) might now not include a discussion of “specific or local” issues such as Bulli Hospital.”We were told the consultation process would be held and we’ve been waiting for that, but now we’re told that the Public Forum on 24 May is not about Bulli Hospital, it’s about the ‘big picture’,” said Alison. “I hope it’s not just the health district telling us what they want to do. That’s not consultation – that’s just ticking a box. We’re going to put some questions on notice, I just hope they answer them, and I hope they let us speak to what we expect from our health service. After all, the community are the ones paying for it!”
The Save Bulli Hospital Emergency Department group includes northern suburbs residents, as well as people from Kiama and other areas who have fought for years for the Illawarra’s Emergency Departments.
“Bulli Hospital needs its own permanent staff in its own Emergency Department,” said Alison. “With new estates springing up all the time in and around Bulli, and a huge influx of weekend visitors to the area, we need more services, not less, and we need them resourced to provide appropriate standards of care.”
Anne Melano of Woonona agrees. “Wollongong Hospital isn’t coping,” she said. “I recently sat for 12 hours overnight in the Wollongong Hospital waiting room with a racing heart, shortness of breath and intermittent pain down one arm. I would have gladly gone to Bulli, but the last time I went there I was turned away and told to go to Wollongong.”
Fears that the downgrading of Bulli Hospital Emergency Department is already being carried out by stealth have strengthened the resolve of local community members to fight any erosion of services. “We’ll fight this all the way,” declared Alison Fettell.
Media contact: Ms Alison Fettell, Convenor, Save BulliED