Four million dollars towards an upgrade of the emergency unit of Muswellbrook hospital was in this week’s NSW budget.
There is a desperate need to move the emergency unit to the ground floor and increase its size.
“I jumped for joy,” the area’s health committee chair of several years and Muswellbrook Shire councillor Jennifer Lecky told the Muswellbrook Chronicle.
“People with an emergency are relying on a lift to get treatment. Sometimes things go wrong with lifts.”
“Hunter New England Local Health District put forward a strong case for the upgrade,” Upper Hunter MP George Souris said in a statement.
“I’m delighted construction will begin in the next few years.”
Under the master plan for the emergency department, a rebuild is estimated at over $20 million, including the cost of removing asbestos.
The $4 million for the hospital comes from $9.9 million set aside for Muswellbrook and Singleton in the Resources for the Regions budget package.
The remaining $5.9m went to Singleton Shire road projects.
The opposition has described the $9.9m as a “pittance going to the mining communities” compared to $160 million promised by the O’Farrell government.
While welcoming the hospital funds, Muswellbrook Shire mayor Martin Rush said money had been shifted into the Resources for Regions package but funding per person in Muswellbrook was still below the NSW average.
“Our education, health and roads budgets haven’t increased,” Cr Rush said. “Thirteen hospitals in rural NSW were funded from the health budget. They’ve just replaced the money that should have been spent here anyway.”