David, 86, Sydney – RNSH patient & community member opposing hospital campus land sale, Nov 28, 2014

David, 86, Sydney

RNSH patient & community member opposing hospital campus land sale

In 1953, David, 86, father-of-two and grandfather-of-two relocated from the Hunter

Heather & David on their golden wedding anniversary
Heather & David on their golden wedding anniversary

Valley to Sydney, following a six month-long hospitalisation to treat his polio.

Requiring ongoing physiotherapy to manage his disease, David was referred to Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH).

Since 1953, almost all of David’s hospital visits have been to RNSH, including for the birth of his second son, Bruce in 1968, who is now Head of the RNSH Department of Renal Medicine.

“I’ve spent a lot of time visiting RNSH over the years for various injuries I’ve had, and also to visit my wife when she was in hospital.

“Only last week, I visited my wife at RNSH for her CT Scan,” said David.

With advancing age, both David and his wife, Heather, 84, are increasingly frequenting the hospital, and both are genuinely appreciative of the facility and its professional services.

“My wife and I are well over 80 now and we seem to be visiting RNSH more and more.

“Easy access to information and the close proximity of the hospital to our home makes it a marvellous facility for us,” David said.

“As people grow old, accessibility to hospital facilities is important, and RNSH is our favourite hospital.”

David is vehemently opposed to the Baird government’s planned land sale of Zone 8 (the southern precinct) of RNSH, describing the move as very “short-sighted”.

“I am directly against the sale or divestment of campus land. The Baird government is planning to sell one of the few areas of the remaining hospital land that will compromise its future.

“This land is also prime hospital land with level easy access to the railway station and the buses,” said David.

Keep the land at the front near the railway station so that elderly patients like David, 86, post-polio, don’t have to climb this hill
Keep the land at the front near the railway station so that elderly patients like David, 86, post-polio, don’t have to climb this hill

“They will only make enough money from the land sale to keep the hospital running for a month – it’s a very short-sighted view.

“I understand that, for a teaching hospital, RNSH is actually very small. There has been a lot of work done to the hospital recently and the good thing about owning the land is that buildings can be knocked down and re-built when required,” David said.

“I am dead against any divestment of hospital land, in case there’s a need to re-build. You can’t re-build the hospital if the land belongs to someone else.

“They [the government] have already gotten rid of the accommodation that people travelling from the country require, as well as the hydro pool. When will they realise enough is enough, and stop?” questioned David.

“I’ve heard a rumour that reportedly emanated from one of the Ministerial offices, stating the RNSH doctors and members of the local community had been informed of the government’s plans to sell the land. Well, I can tell you, that’s just not true!

“My son, Bruce, who is a doctor at the hospital, has heard nothing of the government’s plans to divest the land. He has asked other hospital staff, and they too, have not been informed of such plans,” David said.

“My wife and I haven’t heard anything either, and I don’t know anyone else who has been advised about this potential land sale.”

As a supporter of the RNSH Medical Staff Council’s 12,700-strong ‘People’s Petition’ opposing the sale or long-term lease of RNSH land that was handed-over to Greens NSW MP, Dr John Kaye recently, David says he is proud of the community for showing their support to save the southern hospital campus, but extremely disappointed with the Baird government’s short-sightedness on the topic.

“A lot of doctors, including Bruce, volunteered their time to pound the pavement, in order to collect more than 12,000 signatures from the community to oppose the land divestment.

“When they first approached the local Liberal offices, they were told the matter would not be considered until January, 2015,” said David.

“It seems the Baird Government only sees dollar signs, and isn’t genuinely considering the history of the hospital, and how it was originally donated to the people of the Lower North Shore, or even the services that the hospital offers.

“This is a hospital used by one-in-17 Australians, and in my opinion, it is absolutely abhorrent what the government is doing,” David said.

“I think back 50 years ago, when I was in the coastal hospital. Even being incarcerated with 28 others, we could see the ocean and the coast, which helped keep us sane.

“I can tell you, it is far better as a hospital patient to be able to look out on trees and open green space, rather than car parks or buildings. Green space certainly helps speed recovery,” said David.

MEDIA RELEASE: NSW Premier shifts responsibility for RNSH land sale “mess” back to Health Minister while Campus Master Plan remains MIA – November 28, 2014

Media Release                                                        

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE USE

NSW Premier shifts responsibility for RNSH land sale “mess” back to Health Minister while Campus Master Plan remains MIA

The NSW Premier has this week hand-balled responsibility for divestment of the Royal North Shore Hospital’s (RNSH) southern campus back to his Health Minister, despite her previously informing senior hospital clinicians that the Treasurer was driving the process. Meanwhile, the elusive Campus Master Plan, which promises to seal the hospital’s fate, has been reported missing.

Following Minister Skinner’s allegation that the 700-page Campus Master Plan was “too technical” for senior members of the RNSH Medical Staff Council (MSC) to comprehend on October 17, 2014, the hospital executive is still yet to produce the document, despite multiple requests for such by the MSC.

Representatives of RNSH MSC handed over a 12,700-strong ‘People’s Petition’ opposing the sale or long-term lease of RNSH land to Greens NSW MP, Dr John Kaye, on the steps of NSW Parliament House last week. After later requesting to meet with the Premier, Mr Baird declined, forcing the clinicians to meet, for a second time, with Minister Skinner at her ministerial office next Monday, December 1 at 1pm to re-voice their concerns. At the previous meeting, the Minister indicated the process was out of her hands and that Treasury expected to generate $97 million from the proposed land sale.

According to Dr Adam Rehak, Chair, RNSH Medical Staff Council and Anaesthetist, RNSH, Sydney, hospital staff and the community are being treated with complete disrespect regarding this issue, for no member of the MSC has ever sighted a final copy of the Campus Master Plan, despite their contribution to its development in 2011 to 2012, nor is the document available to the public.

“We’re being told that senior RNSH medical staff ‘signed off’ on a Campus Master Plan in 2012.

“The only thing we “signed off” on was a simple zoning exercise summarised in 16 pages, of which the sale of land is not once described,” said Dr Rehak.

“We only recently learned that the government had commenced an ‘Expressions of Interest’ (EOI) process with private developers to purchase or obtain, on a 99-year lease, the southern campus precinct (Zone 8), and that the NSW government’s plans to recoup $97 million from this land sale,” Dr Rehak said.

“We are being black-mailed, with the government stating we won’t receive critical services on the campus unless the sale proceeds.

“To make matters worse, the government is now playing tag with us, shifting responsibility for the divestment from one office to another. We’re now ‘IT’ and will soon be held responsible for a fake final sign-off,” said Dr Rehak.

“Not only have there been no MSC signatures on the Campus Master Plan, but not one of our members is yet to lay eyes on this elusive document, which apparently is too complicated for medical doctors to comprehend.

“When we meet with Minister Skinner next Monday, we will again request a copy of this document. Should the document clearly describe a land sale, this would genuinely represent a comprehensive cover-up, with the intent to sell the land deliberately hidden from hospital staff and the broader community,” Dr Rehak said.

For the past three months, RNSH staff have been calling on the Government to cease the planned divestment of their southern campus land and to preserve the land for future use, solely for the benefit of the hospital, its patients, visitors and the community at large.

Happily married father-of-two and grandfather-of-two, David, 86, living with post-polio syndrome, has been a regular visitor to RNSH since 1953. He is vehemently opposed to the sale of RNSH campus land, describing the move as very “short-sighted.”

“The good thing about owning the land is that buildings can be knocked down and re-built when required. I am dead against any divestment of hospital land, in case there’s a need to re-build. You can’t re-build the hospital if the land belongs to someone else.

“It seems the Baird government only sees dollar signs, and isn’t genuinely considering the history of the hospital, and how it was originally donated to the people of the Lower North Shore, or even the services that the hospital offers,” said David.

“This is a hospital used by one-in-17 Australians, and in my opinion, it is absolutely abhorrent what the government is doing.”

The Chair of the Board of the Local Health District recently informed the MSC that the future redevelopment of the land tabled to be sold will not proceed without the sale of Zone 8, and that the hospital would not receive childcare, accommodation for out-of-town patients and their families, or Tresillian care in Zone 8 of the RNSH campus, should RNSH staff not agree to the sale of Zone 8.

“If the land is sold, the Department of Health has guaranteed themselves tenancy of the new multi-storey office building, providing ongoing revenue to the successful developer, should this proceed,” Dr Rehak said.

RNSH is a major referral hospital for trauma, spinal injuries and burns across NSW and currently serves 1-in-17 Australians and 1-in-6 people from NSW. The hospital, founded in 1885 by the people, for the people, currently employs 5,000 staff within the medical, surgical, nursing, research, allied health and support service departments. Since establishment, the role of the hospital and the patients for whom it cares, has dramatically changed. Furthermore, the rapidly growing population is resulting in a year-on-year increase in emergency department presentations and hospital admissions (10 per cent and 5 per cent per annum, respectively).

“For the hospital to grow, it needs land to grow into. The incumbent government’s decision to divest, by sale or long-term lease, almost 1 hectare of prime real estate of the southern part of the RNSH campus to the private sector for commercial purposes, makes no sense,” said Dr Tony Joseph, Senior Emergency Physician and Director of Trauma, RNSH.

“RNSH is one of the busiest major referral hospitals in NSW and receives patients from all parts of the state for treatment of spinal injuries, burns and major trauma, as well as other serious medical and surgical conditions. No other tertiary referral hospital in NSW has been required to sell land so that services essential to the hospital, such as staff child care and accommodation for patient families from rural and remote regions of NSW, can be provided.

“It is unclear why the NSW Government has singled out RNSH for special attention,” Dr Joseph said.

“We are not just a local and referral hospital for the people of Northern Sydney, but also the Central Coast, Northern NSW and the rest of the state for Spinal injuries, major Burns and Trauma patients.

“RNSH also provides tertiary services in Hand surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive surgery, Neurosurgery, Stroke, high risk Pregnancy and Neonatal services, as well as many other specialist medical and surgical services,” said Dr Joseph.

“The demand for services provided by the hospital continues to grow on an annual basis, and selling any land will seriously impede the hospital’s potential for future expansion. This decision will not be viewed favourably by future generations.”

This ongoing community concern for the hospital follows a 15,000-strong petition against the land sale in 2011 and an ensuing march on NSW Parliament, which led to the NSW Minister of Health, The Hon. Jillian Skinner MP, placing a moratorium on the sale.

“It is time for the government to stop selling public land and privatising everything and to take responsibility for core community needs, such as healthcare, both now and well into the future,” Dr Joseph said.

Responding to Mrs Skinner’s requests in 2011, hospital clinicians worked closely with health administrators to produce a Campus Master Plan, subsequently endorsed by the Minister in 2012. The sale or long-term lease of the Southern Campus did not appear on this version of the Draft Campus Master Plan.

“This decision clearly departs from the Campus Master Plan. We worked on this plan for almost three years, and not once had the divestment of land been discussed,” Dr Joseph said.

“We were aware there may be ‘commercial opportunities’ for that part of the campus, but sale or long-term lease was never discussed.

“The first we heard was an announcement that the “Expressions of Interest” process had commenced and the Ministry of Health were moving in,” said Dr Joseph.

“A sale or long-term lease of land means critical services, such as childcare and carer accommodation would be built, owned and contracted to a third party provider, and not under the control of the hospital. We believe these services should be owned and controlled by the Local Health District. More importantly, if sold, that part of the campus will never be available when there comes the time to expand or rebuild the hospital.”

The RNSH MSC staff is amenable to exploring commercial opportunities on the campus, on the proviso they prove directly beneficial to the hospital and community at large.

“We have demonstrated a willingness to work closely with the Local Health District and the government to achieve the best outcomes for the hospital. Importantly, we are not completely opposed to a development of sorts on the southern campus. But we are definitely opposed to any sale of the land or a 99 year lease,” said Dr Joseph..

About RNSH

RNSH is a leading tertiary teaching hospital of The University of Sydney (Medicine, Allied Health), University of Technology, Sydney (Nursing) and Australian Catholic University (Nursing). RNSH is a NSW Major Trauma Centre and provides State-wide services for severe burns and spinal cord injury, as well as neonatal intensive care, hand surgery and interventional radiology. The Kolling Institute of Medical Research within RNSH is a Health and Medical Research Centre with a focus on both clinical and laboratory research. RNSH was established in 1885 to service the Mosman, Willoughby, Lane Cove and North Sydney communities. Since then, the hospital has grown exponentially to provide specialist medical services to 1-in-6 people within NSW and 1-in-17 Australians. There are currently 5,000 staff within the medical, surgical, nursing, research, allied health and support service departments employed at RNSH.

To help save RNSH, or to learn more, head to www.save.rnsh.org.

 

 

Interview with Dr Justin Bowra, Emergency Physician, RNSH – November 20, 2014

“I am absolutely gutted at the way our Government has betrayed the future of the hospital & the future of NSW for a dirty quick buck.

“It guts me & angers me that I should have to stand up for the future of the hospital & try & defend its interests against the people who are charged with protecting its interests – I’m a doctor. I’ meant to be looking after sick people, & I’m sick of this.” – Dr Justin Bowra, Emergency Physician, RNSH

Interview with Dr Justin Bowra, Emergency Physician, RNSH

Interview with Dr Tony Joseph, Director of Trauma, RNSh & Senior Staff Specialist, RNSH Emergency Department – November 20, 2014

“North Shore is an iconic hospital. We’re a major referral hospital for trauma, spinal injuries, burns & plastic surgery who serves not just the North Sydney area, but the rest of the State as well.

“To sell off our land for a 99 year lease or permanently just doesn’t make any sense.

“North Shore will only continue to get busier & we will require room to expand & grow into the future.

“This decision will be looked on favourably by future generations.

“We ask the Government to stop the sale of the land now.” – Dr Tony Joseph, Director of Trauma, RNSh & Senior Staff Specialist, RNSH Emergency Department.

See Dr Tony Joseph’s interview on the steps of NSW Parliament House today (November 20, 2014) – Interview with Dr Tony Joseph, Director of Trauma, RNSH & Senior Staff Specialist, RNSH Emergency Department

Interview with Dr Bruce Cooper, Senior Staff Specialist in Nephrology and Hypertension, Head, Department of Renal Medicine, RNSH – November 20, 2014

“We are very concerned that if we sell the land, we won’t be able to grow the future health care needs that this area & this state need to manage our sick & elderly population.

“We are concerned that  the Minister previously said that the land would not be sold, but two months ago we found that the land was going to be sold. Either a complete sale or a 99 year lease.

“We have also been told that if the land was sold, we would get the missing support services, however if the land was not sold, we would miss out on those.” – Dr Bruce Cooper, Senior Staff Specialist in Nephrology and Hypertension, Head, Department of Renal Medicine, RNSH

See Dr Bruce Cooper’s interview on the steps of NSW Parliament House today (November 20, 2014) – Interview with Dr Bruce Cooper, Senior Staff Specialist in Nephrology and Hypertension, Head, Department of Renal Medicine, RNSH

Interview with Dr John Kaye, Greens Member for NSW Parliament – November 20, 2014

“This isn’t just about Clinicians & local community, it’s about all of NSW. This is the major referral hospital for across the state.

“We know that clinical services are evolving with new science & new understandings. To foreclose on any future development of the hospital, by transferring this land to the private sector for 99 years, is a disastrous outcome for NSW.” – Dr John Kaye, Greens Member for NSW Parliament

See Dr John Kaye’s interview on the steps of NSW Parliament House today (November 20, 2014) – Interview with Dr John Kaye, Greens Member for NSW Parliament

 

 

 

 

Hard copy petition tally reaches more than 10,000 – November 18, 2014

Our hard copy petition tally count as of noon today is 11,803!

Thanks to your fantastic support, we have reached our goal of 10,000 signatories.

A huge thank you to all of our volunteers who have worked tirelessly to #helpsaveRNSH

Final petitions are due by COB today.

Pleaseforward them to The Chair of the RNSH Medical Staff Council,

c/o The Department of Anaesthesia, Royal North Shore Hospital, Reverse Rd,

St Leonards, NSW, 2065.

Our next urgent step is to get our petition tabled in Parliament this week.

 

RNSH Thermometer

“The land should not be sold whatsoever” – Anthony Roberts MP, 2011 – November 18, 2014

In 2011, The Hon. Anthony Roberts MP, the Liberal Member for Lane Cove spoke about the importance of keeping RNSH land in the future.

He called the proposal to sell the land short-sighted & explained that the Coalition’s position was very clear – “The land should not be sold whatsoever”.

In an interview with one of RNSH’s senior doctors in 2011, Mr Roberts lent his voice to our cause.

“Can I tell you, the land sale is stupid and short-sighted. It cannot be allowed to go ahead.

We’ve got to look to the future to make sure that hospital has the ability to expand its services, and the way to expand its services is not selling off valuable land you’ll never get back for commercial interest and short-term gain.

So, I can tell you the Coalition’s position is very clear in this. That land should not be sold whatsoever, and it should be held for future use and future expansion.

It’s so incredibly short-sighted to sell that land. And again, where do you expand the hospital? As services need to be expanded, as capacity needs to be expanded, you need that land. And you are not going to achieve that by selling it off, as you’ll never get it back.”

Well, the current strategy is totally flawed and short-sighted. Royal North Shore Hospital is a hospital that we can be very proud of. It’s a hospital that I’ve visited, and I have to say I am a regular visitor there, particularly with my constituents undertaking operations, and being very well looked after.

It’s something that I think, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, should and can become a centre for medical excellence. And the only way of doing that, again, is through expanding and supporting it – not through selling land.”

– The Hon. Anthony Roberts MP, Member for Lane Cove, Minister for Resources & Energy, Special Minister of State

Rolling the clock forward three years, we re-pose our question “are you remaining true to your word & willing to listen to the concerns of your local constituents in preserving the hospital for future generations, by not divesting our hospitals valuable land?”

#helpsaveRNSH