Saffin digs in for superclinic

CONSTRUCTION of Grafton’s multi-million dollar GP superclinic is officially under way with the first sod turned by Page MP, Janelle Saffin, yesterday.

Local politicians, representatives of the area’s health services and curious members of the public gathered at the construction site on the corner of Clarence and Fitzroy streets to see Ms Saffin join with John Burns, general manager of Ochre Health, the organisation behind the superclinic, in digging the first sod.

Ms Saffin said she was delighted to be opening construction at the site and said the project had been a labour of love for many different people.

“When we started the discussion about the GP superclinic, after I managed to secure the $5 million election commitment in 2007, we decided as a community we would work together, and that’s what we did – the first meeting we had was at the local council chambers and a lot of people who are here today have been involved since then,” Ms Saffin said yesterday.

This united effort was obvious with the attendees at yesterday’s ceremony spanning several levels of government and political persuasions, including member for Clarence, Steve Cansdell, Independent Candidate for Clarence, Richie Williamson and Labor Candidate for Clarence, Colin Clague.

Ms Saffin said the $5 million superclinic would include 24 consulting suites, a host of health professionals including GPs, nurses, health specialists, social workers and pharmacy and pathology services. “Also I understand the GP superclinic here in Grafton will provide education and training opportunities for future health professionals and that’s important,” she said.

Ms Saffin also confirmed the Superclinic would offer a limited bulk-billing service to patients.

“(Bulk-billing) will be one of the things this GP superclinic will be able to do, not right across the board but they will be able to do it for certain categories of patients,” she said.

Commencement of the superclinic’s construction was also welcomed by Mr Cansdell who has worked closely with Ms Saffin on the project.

“I believe it will take pressure off the Grafton Base Hospital, the emergency wards, it’ll make the availability of seeing a doctor much easier than it is at present,” Mr Cansdell said.

“I think the fact that this facility will be here will mean people won’t be rushing straight to hospital, they’ll be coming here hopefully and taking that pressure off our hard-working nurses and doctors at the emergency wards.”

Mr Williamson, who has also been a long-time supporter of the project, pointed out the superclinic would benefit the entire area, not just Grafton.

The superclinic is expected to be officially opened in September this year.

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