THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING HOSPITAL

Bricks and mortar we have plenty, but fewer medical services are being delivered in Maitland in 2022.
One would have believed back in 2011 that the people of the Maitland State Electorate and Lower Hunter were going to get a State of the Art new Hospital that they expected when MP Robyn Parker and Jillian Skinner then Health Minister made their grand announcement of a new $766 million 412 bed teaching hospital to support the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle was the big promise.
At the time I along with a number of other people saw an opportunity to have the new hospital located on land adjacent to the Hunter Expressway that would be able to support not only Maitland people but Cessnock, Kurri Kurri, Singleton and towns in the Upper Hunter. We saw the New Maitland Hospital location at Metford as a failed opportunity to get the planning right.
Since the announcement of the new hospital in 2011 it has miraculously shrunk from 412 beds at announcement to 339 beds in 2018 which in fact is around 282 beds when we take out day surgery type beds( Should have never been counted in the first place) and missed services such as CCU etc. Many of the services promised back in 2011 have mysteriously disappeared from the original service statement of 2013 to the current service statement of 2018. The original service statement ran to 103 pages. The new service statement is now a shadow of its former self at only 16 pages and leaves out such important services as Coronary Care. The new hospital reduced from 412 beds to 282 beds replaces the old Maitland Hospital which currently has 196 beds. The closure of the old Maitland hospital will see those 196 beds go over to into the new hospital. Hence the net increase is genuinely small for this rapidly growing regional NSW.
At a time when the country is experiencing a national pandemic in COVID 19 Emergency Departments, a level 5 Intensive Care and Coronary Care Unit beds are a must and now we have a new hospital being service compromised to save money or at the expense of ongoing reliance on John Hunter hospital for essential services. Currently in the Maitland area we have had no Coronary Care Unit since 2018 and the one that was planned for the new hospital is gone from the new building.

We need to ask the hard questions of Hunter New England Health bureaucrats and the State Government Department of Health on why they are dumbing down a new hospital in the 21st Century at the expense of future generations.
The recent announcement of a significant upgrade to John Hunter Hospital some 29 years since it was built is a damming indictment on NSW Health planning. So, one must also ask oneself the question. Where has the $316 million gone from the original new Maitland Hospital plan?
It is well documented that when the new Maitland Hospital is operational that the old Maitland Hospital will be closed. Strong rumours also exist that Kurri Kurri Hospital will close (50 beds) thus reducing the available hospital beds to the people of the Hunter.
Currently it is alleged that the 50 bed Kurri Kurri Hospital has no on-site Doctor from 5pm to 6am Monday to Friday and no Doctor on site over the weekend.
The Hunter Region Plan for 2036 and the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan of which Maitland and Cessnock are part, clearly recognize that the Maitland to Cessnock corridor is a growth area and that an estimated 24,000 home sites are either planned or being planned over the next 20 years west of Maitland in these areas of the Hunter.
To build a new hospital in the 21st Century and not give 100% service to the current and future population is criminal.