Hospital is health district's top priority for $263mil spend
GRAFTON Base Hospital will offer inpatient mental health services when a $263.8million redevelopment is funded.
For the first time the Northern NSW Local Health District has made the hospital its number one priority in its Asset Strategic Plan for 2018/19.
The $263.8 million costing for the hospital redevelopment comes on top of the $17.4million ambulatory care centre funded in the latest NSW Budget.
One of the developments, which NNSWLHD chief executive Wayne Jones signed off on earlier this month, was planning for inpatient and community-based mental health services consistent with the National Mental Health Service Performance Framework modelling tool.
The asset plan has outlined how older hospital buildings at Grafton have reached their use-by date and must be upgraded.
It also said the hospital was close to capacity with inpatient beds, emergency, renal dialysis and chemotherapy infrastructure expected to reach capacity by 2022 and infrastructure for ambulatory care services to reach capacity in 2020.
The construction of Australia's largest jail, due for completion south of Grafton at the end of 2020, would also place stresses on the region's health services.
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said getting the government to fund this project was his number one priority.
"I've spoken to the Health Minister, the Deputy Premier and the Treasurer to have this funding included in the budget as soon as possible," Mr Gulaptis said.
"We're about to have the fourth biggest community in the Clarence Valley come online when the jail opens in about two years.
"Ideally we'd like to have construction underway by then."
But Mr Gulaptis said he could not say when the funding would make it to the budget.
"It's the number one priority for the health district and my number one priority," he said.
"The plan gives a timeframe for the hospital's capacity and I'm confident the minister is aware of those factors."
Mr Gulaptis said the inclusion of inpatient mental health services was recognition of both the mental health issues confronting the Clarence Valley and a more mature attitude to mental health in the community.
"There was once a stigma associated with mental health, but now people realise mental health is a health issue that needs to be addressed, just like any other," Mr Gulaptis said.
The funding for the ambulatory care service and the redevelopment of the hospital were the outcome of long-term plans for the region's health," Mr Gulaptis said.
"This planning has been ongoing since 2016," he said. "It's now the number one priority for the local health district and I will continue to highlight it as my main priority."