THE LONG-awaited Stage Three upgrade for Lismore Base Hospital is the closest it's been since the redevelopment plans were unveiled more than a decade ago.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner, flanked by  NSW Deputy Premier Troy Grant and Lismore MP Thomas George, said a re-elected coalition government would spend $180m completing the long-awaited Stage Three redevelopment of Lismore Base Hospital.

Combined with the $80m now being spent on a new emergency department, the promise would mean a total $260m was earmarked for the hospital redevelopment, making it the biggest single capital works project in Lismore's history.

Member for Lismore Thomas George, New South Wales Minister for Health Jillian Skinner, Deputy Premier of New South Wales Troy Grant, Dr Chris Ingall, and Dr Brian , in Lismore for an announcement of funding for Stage 3B of Lismore Base Hospital.
Member for Lismore Thomas George, New South Wales Minister for Health Jillian Skinner, Deputy Premier of New South Wales Troy Grant, Dr Chris Ingall, and Dr Brian , in Lismore for an announcement of funding for Stage 3B of Lismore Base Hospital. Cathy Adams

Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Chris Crawford said the redevelopment would involve the construction of an 11-storey tower - work on which is already underway as part of the construction of the new emergency department - and a three-storey tower as well as the demolition of most of A Block, the oldest part of the existing hospital.

Mr George said he had pushed for the funding to work as a continuation of the existing works on the emergency department as a way of saving time and money on the upgrade.

Lismore Base Hospital announcement: NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Lismore MP Thomas George, with Deputy Premier Troy Grant, announce funding to complete the Stage 3 redevelopment of Lismore Base Hospital.
Lismore Base Hospital announcement: NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Lismore MP Thomas George, with Deputy Premier Troy Grant, announce funding to complete the Stage 3 redevelopment of Lismore Base Hospital.

STAGE 3B

  • Two towers, one 11 storeys with two storeys underground, one three storeys with one storey underground.
  • Helipad on top of the main tower, allowing patients to be moved directly from the helicopter to surgery.
  • New operating theatres.
  • New maternity suite.
  • New paediatric unit.
  • New medical imaging centre.
  • Ambulatory/ outpatient services.
  • Clinical and non-clinical support services.
  • New ward beds.

However, with work on the emergency unit expected to run until 2016 and the remainder of Stage Three expected to take about three years to build, that still means the upgraded hospital would not be ready until about 2019 - some 15 years after the redevelopment was first envisaged.

Mr Crawford said the redevelopment would include everything envisaged in the original Stage Three upgrade plan, ranging from a helipad on the roof of the main tower to new operating theatres and wards.

Ms Skinner said the redevelopment of the Lismore hospital was overdue.

New South Wales Minister for Health Jillian Skinner, Member for Lismore Thomas George, and Deputy Premier of New South Wales Troy Grant, in Lismore for an announcement of funding for Stage 3B of Lismore Base Hospital. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
New South Wales Minister for Health Jillian Skinner, Member for Lismore Thomas George, and Deputy Premier of New South Wales Troy Grant, in Lismore for an announcement of funding for Stage 3B of Lismore Base Hospital. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star Cathy Adams

"One of the things that struck me when I became Minister and I went through this hospital in more detail than normal was how inadequate the emergency department, in particular, was," Ms Skinner said. "I think the staff that have worked here at this hospital have done an absolutely brilliant job in very difficult circumstances."

Mr George acknowledged the efforts of the community, including The Northern Star, in campaigning for the redevelopment.

"I want to pay credit to people who have continually joined me on this campaign," Mr George said.

Thomas George says thanks at LBH announcement: Lismore MP Thomas George thanks the community for its support at the announcement of funding for Stage 3 at Lismore Base Hospital.
Thomas George says thanks at LBH announcement: Lismore MP Thomas George thanks the community for its support at the announcement of funding for Stage 3 at Lismore Base Hospital.

Mr George acknowledged former Northern Rivers Area Health Service board chairwoman Liz Rummery, Our Health head Marshall Fittler, current Northern NSW Local Health District chairman Brian Pezzutti, Northern Star journalist Alex Easton, surgeon Austin Curtin, Lismore Base Hospital Medical Staff Council chairman Chris Ingall, and others for their work on pushing for the redevelopment of the hospital over the years.

Dr Ingall said the hospital's doctors were happy with the announcement but urged Mr George to maintain pressure on the government and Treasury to ensure the hospital received an extra 100 beds, saying the number included in the redevelopment plan did not reach that goal.

The hospital upgrade has been one of Mr George's main objectives since he was elected as the Member for Lismore in 1999.

Asked if the hospital commitment made yesterday felt like 'job done' for him, Mr George said he now wanted to make sure the project was done and wouldn't feel like his job was complete until the new sections opened their doors.

LBH announcement: What's next Thomas: Lismore MP Thomas George has spent his parliamentary career campaigning for the Lismore Base Hospital redevelopment. We ask if this is 'job done'.
LBH announcement: What's next Thomas: Lismore MP Thomas George has spent his parliamentary career campaigning for the Lismore Base Hospital redevelopment. We ask if this is 'job done'.