Fours years on, still no theatres

By EMMA CORNFORD

IT HAS been almost four years since the Carr Government promised money for new operating theatres at Grafton Base Hospital, but still no funds have been secured for their construction.

North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) chief executive officer, Chris Crawford, said the service had done all that was asked by the health department by sending down two preliminary planning papers.

"We've done our part which we needed to do with the planning stages ... and that's been sent down to the department and now they've got to decide on the funding," he said.

"In the meantime we've increased the use of existing theatres ... and increased lists for Dr Asquith and Dr Calvary to get the waiting lists down."

Despite increasing surgery loads at the hospital, waiting lists have soared at Grafton during the past 12 months. But the Carr Government remained tight-lipped about whether Grafton Base Hospital would definitely be alloted funding in this year's budget, to be announced in May.

"We can't give an answer as to what's in the budget but (the department) will be considering it along with other health priorities in the state in the context of the budget," a spokesperson for the health minister said yesterday.

Mr Crawford said NCAHS had allocated an additional $400,000 to address the waiting list problems at Grafton Base Hospital.

"We will have another 180 cataract procedures performed before June 30 this year and an extra 65 ear, nose and throat procedures have also been funded," he said.

"The extra surgery lists for the two doctors will mean another 180 endoscopy procedures before the end of June."



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