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.