THE news that Tenterfield healthcare professionals are looking at the possibility of upgrading the Tenterfield hospital to a multi-purpose health service (MPS) has hit a nerve with some members of the board of Tenterfield’s Care Centre who believe an MPS will not provide Tenterfield with adequate health services.
At last week’s ordinary council meeting, Tenterfield Hospital manager Michael Moore made a presentation, updating Tenterfield Shire councillors on the process for an MPS.
After the presentation, all 10 councillors including the mayor voted to support the Local Health Advisory Committee’s (LHAC) push for an MPS.
While Michael Moore said the reality of a new health service was years off for Tenterfield, he said it was important to have the support of the whole community before approaching the state government for funding.
“We are committed to ensuring appropriate, quality and safe health services are accessible to the Tenterfield community now and into the future,” he said in a statement.
“It is pleasing that Tenterfield Council supports Hunter New England Health in our endeavour to provide high quality health services in Tenterfield.”
Mr Moore said LHAC would take councillors and other community representatives to visit the MPS at Guyra next week.
Tenterfield’s Care Centre chairman Col Mann said he would not be going to visit Guyra.
“I’ve been there, I’ve seen it. It may be what they [Guyra] needs but it is not what we need,” he said
“We need a hospital, not an MPS.
“We’re not a Guyra or an Emmaville, we have nowhere where we can go quickly - if something goes wrong we need a hospital.
“An MPS is not going to give us anything extra, it is just going to double up on the services we already have… in my opinion it is not going to give us what we really want.”
Mr Mann said in February last year he and other board members and shire councillors met with representatives from the local health network and the Member for the Northern Tablelands Richard Torbay to discuss the future of health care in Tenterfield.
He said at that meeting there was a resolution passed that the group would not go down the path of an MPS unless they received a guarantee from the government about the exact number of beds the facility would include.
Mr Torbay confirmed he had been chair of the meeting in February and said all the stakeholders did come to an agreement.
“The important thing here is that there is community support across the board,” Mr Torbay said.
“This is not going to progress if the community is not behind it… I am willing to work closely with all those involved to achieve the best outcomes for the community.”
Mr Moore stopped short of providing exact numbers of hospital beds or aged care beds and said that those kinds of details would be decided upon by the government after consultation with the community.
He also said a maternity unit would be out of the question because of a lack of access to enough doctors trained in surgery in the area.
No increased numbers of doctors or specialist was also a sticking point with Mr Mann who believed the experts would not come to town for a new building.
“It won’t be anything different to what we have now. We have no practitioners and we’re not getting all these workers here just because we’ve got a new building.
“The practitioners aren’t here to begin with - a new building is not going to help us get anywhere else.”