Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis at the Richmond Valley Australia Day ceremony at Casino Drill Hall.
Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis at the Richmond Valley Australia Day ceremony at Casino Drill Hall.

Gulaptis responds to Maclean Hospital concerns

MEMBER for Clarence Chris Gulaptis has responded to community concerns over changes to the structure of Maclean District Hospital.

Earlier this week, staff were called to a meeting to outline changes to the operations of the hospital that will have the 14-bed acute ward on Level 2 combined with the subacute/rehabilitation ward on level 1.

NNSWLHD chief executive Wayne Jones claimed earlier in the week that the ward was not closing, but would instead be used in surge periods and staffed to ratios.

However, the Health Services Union said that the change would impact in the availability of services for Maclean and Lower Clarence community.

"With fewer beds available at Maclean Hospital, management will be looking to send as many patients as possible to Grafton and Lismore for treatment," Health Service Union (HSU) NSW Secretary Gerard Hayes said.

Mr Gulaptis said he acknowledged the concerns in the local community of the reconfiguration.

"I have been assured both in writing and verbally by the CEO of the NNSWLHD, Wayne Jones, that no wards are closing nor will the hospital lose any staff," he said.

"The proposal is to consolidate patients and staff into one ward while the other ward will be used for 'surge' beds in times of peak activity.

"While I appreciate there are two staff whose positions are affected by this proposal, I have again been assured by the NNSWLHD CEO there are opportunities for them to work elsewhere in the hospital."

Mr Gulaptis said he was pleased to hear there were new nursing positions being made available.

"The recruitment of an additional 4.8 new nurse positions at Maclean Hospital is welcome and justifies the workload at the hospital," he said.

"Maclean has been selected as one of the first hospitals in the NNSWLHD to be funded for the increase in positions."

Mr Gulaptis sought to reassure the community, some of which had been critical of him via social media since the announcement was made.

"As a resident of the Maclean community for the past 40 years, I recognise the value of the hospital to the Lower Clarence community and this will only increase into the future with a growing population and ageing demographic," he said.

"I can assure the community I will be keeping a watchful eye on the proposed changes to ensure the NNSWLHD honours its commitment to Lower Clarence community."