Brad Hazzard has visited Glen Innes' new hospital upgrade for the first time as Health Minister.
The Minister flew in to tour the Inverell and Armidale hospital upgrades on Friday, and spent half an hour looking over the current Glen Innes hospital this afternoon. He met with the Hospital Auxiliary, local government representatives and hospital staff.
But he had no additional information about timelines or the scope of the project, which was described in a media release as "including refurbishment of staff accommodation".
"By improving the standard of accommodation facilities I hope we will see more doctors, nurses and medical staff looking to taking postings in Glen Innes and maybe even move to town permanently," he said.
Jan Sharman was once a resident of the nurse's quarters she now calls an "eyesore" and that are to be demolished as part of the project. Minister Hazzard joked that she blew a $20 million hole in the NSW state budget. He also described fellow Minister and Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall as "a bit of a pain" for the amount he'd lobbied in favour of the project. Mr Marshall in turn described himself as "ultra parochial about my electorate".
Both Marshall and Sharman helped get 3000 signatures on a petition in favour of the upgrade.
"The auxiliary in particular have worked their backsides off for years and years and years," said Adam Marshall.
"This (upgrade) doesn't happen without your efforts."
The hospital upgrade was announced before the state election in March. At the time Mr Marshall said the old nurse's quarters, set to be demolished, could be used for a new ambulance headquarters or a helipad.
The upgrade was reconfirmed after the election and has been locked in.
But the scope of works is as yet unclear, as is the timeline, though it's expected there will be a lengthy period of consultation in advance of the first sod turning. Minister Hazzard was not available for interview in the brief half-hour visit, but the Examiner was told to expect additional details in the budget, to be announced on June 18.
"Through a petition the community called for it, now it is time to deliver," said Adam Marshall.
"During the March election I promised the NSW government would spend $20 million to remove the old nurse's quarters and bring the current hospital in line with the other modern facilities.
"Today Minister Hazzard has seen how transformative this injection of funds will be and I thank him for his ongoing support to healthcare in our region."
The $20 million redevelopment comes on top of a half million dollars spent upgrading the Glen Innes Hospital's air conditioning and medical gas lines in 2017. The government has spent more than $120 million upgrading the Armidale and Inverell hospitals.
Mr Hazzard said he had previously visited Glen Innes as Shadow Minister for Correctional Services, to inspect the Glen Innes Correctional Centre.