Health minister Jillian Skinner says Armidale hospital and its redevelopment remains a key priority for the state government.
Mrs Skinner was speaking yesterday in the wake of more criticism from federal independent MP Tony Windsor over funding anomalies he claims had left Armidale out in the cold because the minister or her department had misled parliament and the electorate over the saga.
Mrs Skinner said yesterday the government had committed $5 million for the construction of a new ambulatory care building at Armidale Hospital.
“The new facility will provide ambulatory care services, such as specialist consulting rooms for surgeons, anaesthetists, renal physicians and obstetrics and gynaecology; and chronic disease services, including dietician services; and chemotherapy (funded with $1.3 million from the Commonwealth Government),” she said.
“The NSW Government has dramatically increased investment in regional hospital infrastructure including $100 million for the redevelopment of Tamworth Hospital – also within Mr Windsor’s electorate.
“Mr Windsor supported the Tamworth project ahead of Armidale and was silent when the Federal Labor Government rejected the Armidale upgrade proposal.
“I’m pleased we’ve started work on the ambulatory care building and as previously indicated the redevelopment of Armidale Hospital is a key priority for Hunter New England Local Health District, should the Commonwealth invite submissions for a further round of the Health and Hospitals Funds.
The latest round in the verbal stoush between the federal MP and the two state politicians, Mrs Skinner and local independent MP Richard Torbay has also seen Mr Windsor call on his former independent colleague to push the government to put more money up.
“He should be calling on the NSW Government to fund the hospital as it is clear they did not want the Federal Government to fund it,” Mr Windsor said.
“It is now time for ‘Torbay the National’ to get back to ‘Richard the Independent’ and follow up this issue in the NSW Parliament holding the NSW Minister for Health Jillian Skinner to account now that she has admitted misleading his constituents.”
Mr Torbay said the $60 million staged redevelopment of Armidale Hospital would stand its best chance of success through a united front from all
“Playing partisan political games is a well known diversionary tactic to take people’s minds off the main issue and has little to do with achieving good outcomes,” he said.
“At this stage the only person out of step with the Armidale Hospital redevelopment project is the local federal member. Local community members who have contacted me say they would prefer him to act as their representative and use the strong influence he has in Canberra to press for the Commonwealth share of the funding needed for the project to go ahead.”
Mr Torbay said the NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner had confirmed her support for the redevelopment as a funding priority during a recent visit to the Armidale Hospital.