The State government faces heavy backlash for promoting urban growth whilst simultaneously cutting back on hospital space. Steph Nash reporting.
The State government’s plan to sell-off part of the Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) has been criticised by the Labor Party as a ‘short-term’ and ‘short-sighted’ economic decision.
NSW Labor Shadow Health Minister, Walt Secord, said that as a matter of principle, the land should not be sold when it was already at a premium.
“When the hospital expands in the future due to population growth, it will cost more to expand the hospital facilities,” he said. “The State Liberals and Nationals have taken a very short-sighted and short-term approach to land surrounding Royal North Shore Hospital. In the long run, it will cost the taxpayer more to get more land if the hospital needs to expand.
“As a principle, the land should be used for clinical and patient purposes,” Mr Secord added.
AVER, the developers behind the private project, have described their development as ‘urban renewal’ and ‘master planning’, potentially seeing thousands of residents flocking to the North Shore area. Royal North Shore’s Dr Tony Joseph, a Senior Emergency Physician and Director of Trauma, argued that the hospital is already struggling with its current capacity, and that any more urban growth could be disasterous.
“For the hospital to grow, it needs land to grow into. The incumbent government’s decision to divest, by sale or long-term lease, almost 1 hectare of prime real estate of the southern part of the RNSH campus to the private sector for commercial purposes, makes no sense,” he said.
“RNSH is one of the busiest major referral hospitals in NSW and receives patients from all parts of the state for treatment of spinal injuries, burns and major trauma, as well as other serious medical and surgical conditions.
“No other NSW tertiary referral hospital has been required to sell land so that services essential to the hospital, such as staff child care and accommodation for patient families, can be provided,” Dr Joseph said.