Petition to prevent Kurri Kurri Hospital closure after rumours spark fear, community concern

Petition: Cessnock councillor Rod Doherty is one of several community members concerned enough about the future of Kurri Kurri Hospital and its services to launch an e-petition.
Petition: Cessnock councillor Rod Doherty is one of several community members concerned enough about the future of Kurri Kurri Hospital and its services to launch an e-petition.

PERSISTENT speculation surrounding the future of services at Kurri Kurri Hospital have prompted a community petition pleading to keep the facility open.

Hunter New England Health has denied rumours the hospital will close.

But Cessnock councillor Rod Doherty said the continual stories about services potentially shutting or being absorbed into either the John Hunter or the new Maitland Hospital when it opens meant members of the community - and staff - were feeling uneasy.

"We don't think they are rumours anymore, we think they are facts," he said.

"There is a specific rumour that the emergency department at Kurri Kurri will be closed by mid-June."

It follows speculation that the facility's rehabilitation services were going to close by Christmas last year, when Cr Doherty said the unit had one patient and was not admitting others.

He said there were also persistent rumours about the future of the hospital's operating theatre and cardiac rehab unit - which they believed would be absorbed into the new Maitland Hospital once it was completed in 2022.

A group of concerned community members, including Cr Doherty, submitted an e-petition to NSW Parliament citing their concerns about any moves to reduce or close the services provided at the hospital.

So far, the petition has garnered more than 700 signatures.

It calls for the hospital's emergency department to be retained with appropriate triage facilities; that its palliative care unit be maintained; and that its Medical Ward remain open with support from visiting medical officers.

The petition also asks for the rehabilitation, pathology and X-ray departments at the hospital be appropriately funded and maintained, along with the facility's buildings.

"We should, at a minimum, have a retention of the services out at Kurri Kurri now," he said.

Karen Kelly, Hunter New England Health's executive director of Greater Metropolitan Health Services wanted to "reassure" the community that Kurri Kurri Hospital would remain open.

"It has and will continue to play an important part in our network of health services," she said.

"While there have been suggestions that some services currently delivered at Kurri Kurri may transition to the new Maitland Hospital when it opens in 2022, I can confirm that no decisions have been made about these services.

"As planning continues, we will keep our staff and the community informed."

Ms Kelly said the hospital's ED was supported by local GPs and also larger facilities, such as Maitland Hospital, "when clinically required".

This story Petition to prevent Kurri Kurri Hospital closure after rumours spark fear, community concern first appeared on Newcastle Herald.