Photo – Steph Cooke with Tresillian CEO Rob Mills
Nationals Member for Cootamundra, Steph Cooke, is seeking an urgent meeting with the NSW Health Minister following a decision that the promised Tresillian residential unit at the new Cowra Hospital would not be proceeding.
In September last year Ms Cooke announced there would be two beds dedicated to a new Tresillian residential inpatient service as part of the $110.2 million Cowra Hospital redevelopment.
Ms Cooke first called for a Tresillian Residential Unit for Cowra in August 2020 after touring the new Tresillian unit at the $73 million redeveloped Macksville Hospital.
Several neighbouring councils provided letters of support, understanding families in their own communities would benefit from this service being established in the area.
Tresillian CEO Rob Mills said at the time that having the beds at Cowra Hospital would be a real game changer.
“It will mean we will be able to provide more parents with more services and more support. Our range of new services in the region will help us to deliver on Tresillian’s vision, which is to ensure every child has the best possible start in life,” Mr Mills said in October 2022.
However, that vision has now been shattered.
Ms Cooke has held a meeting with Health Infrastructure NSW and the Western NSW Health District, and they advised her that the promised Tresillian residential unit at the new Cowra Hospital would not be proceeding.
The decision is said to relate to construction and ongoing operational costs, but Ms Cooke said this fails to take into account the ongoing social cost of not proceeding with such an important service for families across the Central West.
“This is just devastating news for the community, for parents, expectant parents, and families right across not just Cowra, but right across the region.
“On the eve of the main build commencing, this decision has completely blindsided me as the local Member; it’s blindsided Mayor Ruth Fagan; it’s blindsided the local health council and it’s most certainly blindsided the community. It’s not good enough.
“I’ve sought a meeting urgently with the Health Minister Ryan Park; I’m just imploring him to overturn this decision. I genuinely believe it’s absolutely wrong and it’s been made without any community consultation whatsoever.”
Ms Cooke said the decision means there are no Tresillian inpatient services for families west of the Great Divide, meaning anyone needing help must travel to Canberra or Nepean Hospital in Sydney.
“You can imagine the toll that that takes on a young family, particularly when both parents might be working, or they may have other children at home. The whole idea, given that this was a brand-new hospital being built in Cowra, was to be able to provide these critical essential services close to where people live.
“To say I am devastated by this outcome is an understatement.”
Cowra Council has passed an urgent motion to write to the Minister for Health to express its extreme disappointment at the decision and to ask the government to reinstate the Tresillian beds in the Cowra Hospital redevelopment. The Council is also seeking an assurance that no other part of the Community-based Clinical Services Plan will be changed.
Mayor Ruth Fagan said the Services Plan took years to develop to provide the services and facilities required for the Cowra region.
“We would be devastated if the NSW Government failed to deliver the full plan in the redevelopment,” she said.