Clarence Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis has launched a community campaign to help build the strongest possible case to secure the $263.8 million required to redevelop Grafton Base Hospital.

Mr Gulaptis was joined by Clarence Valley Council mayor Jim Simmons, Northern NSW Local Health District Board member and Chairman of Grafton Base Hospital Medical Staff Council Dr Allan Tyson, Director of ICU Dr Andrew White, and a range of other community and business leaders at Grafton Base Hospital to launch a petition to demonstrate the strong community support for the upgrade.

“The redevelopment of Grafton Base Hospital is a high priority for me but having the united support of the local community is a key ingredient in building a strong case,” Mr Gulaptis said. “Having the backing of the local community will arm me with more political muscle and definitely add weight to the lobbying I have already undertaken with the Deputy Premier and Minister for Health to secure this funding.”

The petition highlights the need to redevelop Grafton Base Hospital and other health services on the hospital site to meet the growing needs of the local community, excluding services already planned to be located in the new $17.4 million Ambulatory Care Centre, funding for which Mr Gulaptis has already secured from the Nationals in Government.

“Investing in the redevelopment of the hospital is the next priority. It has reached its use-by-date and is close to capacity, with population growth set to increase as a result of the commissioning of Australia’s largest gaol just south-east of Grafton in 2020 placing further stress on health services,” Mr Gulaptis said. “The upgrade has recently been identified as the number one priority of the Northern NSW Local Health District and includes the expansion of a number of existing health services as well as the provision of an inpatient and community based mental health service. This is all about planning for and supporting the future health needs and wellbeing of our valley over the next few decades. Our community is entitled to have access to the best possible health care in a 21st century hospital.”

Mr Gulaptis plans to circulate the petition over the coming weeks at local businesses and have community stands manned in key public areas to allow members of the community to sign.