POLITICIANS have balked at claims funding for the redevelopment of Tamworth hospital’s mental health unit will be released as part of a state election campaign.
Mental health workers and carers joined with Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson as he announced $365,000 had been received to carry out interior works at the Banksia unit.
The works, including new lighting, sound systems, exercise and other sensory modulation equipment, are “over and above” a promised redevelopment.
While Mr Anderson said it was extra money for Tamworth, there has been no funding announcement for the redevelopment of Banksia to date.
When asked if the funding would be announced as part of his re-election campaign, Mr Anderson said: “We're focused on what we've got to do to look after our patients and look after those people who need support”.
Mental health minister Tanya Davies denied the claim. She said Monday’s announcement would deliver immediate improvements for patients.
The minister said planning was under way for the redevelopment, with the build being “co-designed” by advocacy groups and Hunter New England Health.
“This planning process involves patients, staff, and mental health advocacy groups working together with the Local Health District to determine the needs of the local community,” she said.
“Once planning is complete, we will know more about the timeframe of Banksia’s redevelopment.
“The funding announced this week is the NSW government’s response to recommendations from the Review of Seclusion, Restraint and Observation and will immediately refresh the physical environment at mental health facilities across the state.”
Tamworth mental health carers support group facilitator Di Wyatt welcomed the interior upgrades. She helped circulate the 13,000-signature petition to rebuild Banksia last year.
“We know it's going to take time, but we're patient and just happy it’s all happening,” she said.
Banksia nurse manager Stacey Doosey said the interior refurbishment was designed by feedback from patients and family.
“What we know is coming into hospital or having a loved one come into hospital can be really overwhelming and scary for people,” she said.
“For our patients and loved ones, it is really important the therapeutic environment of the unit is as close to being at home as it can be.”