By Aaron Goodwin
LNP Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett has accused Labor’s Bundaberg MP Tom Smith of betraying the people of Bundaberg, breaking his major election commitment to deliver a Level 5 hospital in Bundaberg.
Mr Bennett said that Mr Smith and State Government have lied and walked away from their promise of delivering a new hospital with Level 5 services.
Mr Bennett believes that the proof of the State Government’s deceit was highlighted in the Health Minister’s response to Mr Bennett’s Question on Notice (21 April), which the Burnett MP says is condescending towards the people of Bundaberg.
Mr Bennett asked Health Minister Yvette D’Ath if she will commit to a Level 5 hospital.
Ms D’Ath’s response included; ”The term ‘level 5 hospital used in earlier phases of project planning for the Bundaberg Hospital Redevelopment project, is a shorthand way of explaining that the proposed hospital would work towards providing predominately level 5 services, as defined by the Clinical Services Capability Framework. (CSCF)
”As WBHHS has moved into more detailed planning stages- including public consultation- I understand it has moved away from using technical medical terms such as CSCF levels in an effort to provide clearere explanations in plain English, to ensure its communities understand what the proposed changes mean for them.”
Mr Bennett said that it’s a disturbing backflip for the Labor Government to no longer refer to the proposed new Bundaberg hospital as Level 5.
”We finally have confirmation from the Minister for Health that the promised Level 5 hospital will not eventuate,” Mr Bennett said.
“For the Minister to say the government won’t be referring to the hospital as a Level 5 because they want to provide clearer explanations in plain English, and that people are confusing the reference to mean the proposed hospital would be a five-story building is damn right offensive.
”Clear promises were made and now a complete reversal and walking away from the Level 5 promises.”
Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith said that Mr Bennett and the LNP are misleading the people and that the State Government is not rolling back at all on their commitment to build a new hospital with Level 5 services.
”We are going to have a fantastic, world-class hospital, packed full of Level 5 services in Bundaberg,”Mr Smith said.
”All the Level 5 services that have been identified as a need will go into the new hospital.”
Queensland Health does not categorise hospitals entirely in levels, meaning that the new Bundaberg Hospital wouldn’t be classed as a Level 5 or Level 4 hospital.
Instead the Clinical Services Capability Framework (CSCF) outlines the complexity of individual services a hospitals provides and ranks them in levels.
In the CSCF clinical services are categorised into six capability levels, with Level 1 managing the least complex patients and Level 6 managing the highest level of patient complexity.
So when calls are being made for a Level 5 Bundaberg Hospital, it is referring to the delivery of clinical services that are Level 5 rated.
Level 5 services at the new Bundaberg Hospital would manage all but the most highly complex patients and procedures.
Mr Bennett also expressed concerns that with the abolishment of Building Queensland by the State Government, he fears that the business case is still sitting with an abolished entity and will result in further delays to the business case and new hospital delivery.
When asked how the abolishment of Building Queensland might affect the submission of the business case for the new hospital, Mr Smith reassured that the business case will be finalised and submitted to the government by the end of the year.
Mr Smith said that there’ll be no funding allocation for the new hospital in the 15 June Queensland State Budget.
He added that the findings from the business case will give confirmation of what Level 5 services will be at the new hospital.
”Once we have that business case, then we’ll know the costing and then we’ll be able to make commitments into future budgets,” Mr Smith.
”For Mr Bennett to come out and say we are rolling back from any promises on the hospital is an absolute lie.
”The terminology that Mr Bennett wants to use is misleading people.”
Mr Smith admitted that when he was the Labor candidate for Bundaberg, he said that the new hospital will be a Level 5 hospital.
”I’m really glad through my conversations with Queensland Health and the government as well, that we know it’s Level 5 services going into a world-class hospital.”
”If Mr Bennett has called this it’s absolutely about semantics, there’s nothing to worry about, we are building a Level 5 hospital, it’s going to be there for the whole of the Wide Bay.”
Mr Bennett has accused Mr Smith of being decietful and deleting all references from Facebook which clearly promised that his government would build Bundaberg a Level 5 hospital.
”People that got elected on a platform of promising one thing and now saying another I think shows why we see the Member for Bundaberg and others, deleting all reference to their quotes on the Level 5,” Mr Bennett said.
”We’ve got copies of all those and I think it’s time they explain themselves why you can say one during a campaign and walk away from that.”
Mr Smith’s office said that the post in question on 26 August 2020, which Mr Bennett provided the media a copy of, was deleted by an administrator of the account.
The reason being is that it should have read as ‘level 5 services’ however an oversight occurred and was corrected, in order to maintain clear and consistent messaging in regards to the hospital.