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Our local community have grave concerns with the supposed Steering Committee/Advisory Group and NSW Health Infrastructure involvement in determining the agreed community uses for the vacated Manly Hospital site.   Back in Dec’18 when NSW Health Infrastructure invited a broad spectrum of community attendees to a “Visioning Workshop” (NB Council Members including our Mayor, Mike Regan & Councillor Candy Bingham, plus our NSW Government representative, James Griffin and an array of 20+ community representatives), all activity has stalled.   Nothing positive nor progressive has happened since?    The expectations created at this meeting was to have another similar meeting along these lines in Feb’19 to consider the outworking of the Vision Workshop for sharing openly with organisations with similar aspirations by way of a public Expressions of Interest (EOI) in delivering this Community Vision. 

Nothing has been received by any of the Workshop attendees from the NSW Health Infrastructure’s Communications & Engagement Lead, other than learning that they have lost the services of their main project coordinator.   No minutes of our meeting was ever issued, no results from our  Vision Workshop distributed, no plans for the next meeting made know, not even an apology from the Lead explaining why the proposed meeting for Feb’19 never took place (now 4 moths ago).    Understandably the community has anxiously awaited the outcome of the recent NSW Government election before formally raising these concerns with our next appointed NSW Health Minister (Brad Hazard, NB Wakehurst MP).   He and his Health Department colleges seem totally preoccupied with additional problems with their new NB Hospital services at Frenches Forest.   In the meantime “wonderfully generous” community donations for a proposed residential youth/adult Hospice accommodation rolls in.  One philanthropist donation of $5 mill. has been matched by $5 mill. from the Federal Government for this singular community health need made open to public funding for a 10 bed Palliative Care  establishment.   Other such urgent needs such as Aged Care, Mental Health Recovery, Disability & Affordable Housing for Health Workers, etc. hang on NSW Health Infrastructure progressing its due diligence, including the removal of asbestos contamination, etc.   

NBC and local Community forums have committed to provide senior management resources to support Health Infrastructure through this interim period and await guidance from our local NSW Government representative (James Griffin) on how best to progress the current Steering Committee to kick-start the project again with participants able and willing to progress the useful use of this icon site as a much needed Manly Community-directed Health Care Facility (McHCF).

 

Background

The Manly Hospital site has been in public hands for over 100 years.   As far back as 2007, when the need for a new modern 5 level hospital was envisaged for Northern Beaches, our then NSW Government representative (Mike Baird) supported the reality-check  that the Manly Hospital site was no longer “fit for purpose” as a site for the proposed new hospital.   Once the new site of Frenches Forest was determined, the community concern for the “Future of the Manly Hospital Site” began to gain momentum.  The new Northern Beaches Hospital at Frenches Forest is scheduled to be fully operational in mid-late 2018, when the current Manly Hospital site will be closed and vacated.   NSW Health, owners of the site, has determined the Manly Hospital site and the associated site at Queenscliff to be surplus to their requirements.  Subsequent community pollings, surveys and meetings have made it very clear that the community preferences and consensus is toward some form of a Health Care facility on the site.  This community position was supported by Mike Baird (as our then NSW State Premier).  In 2013 Mike Baird established the  Manly Hospital Community Advisory Group (MCHAG) which produced its  first report in June 2015 where these community preferences were again ratified and documented.

The shock announcement in 2017 of Mike Baird’s retirement from politics has meant our prime supporter and sponsor for these community preferences for the Future of the Manly Hospital site has come under challenge. Comments from our neighbouring NSW Health Minister (Brad Hazzard), who now has jurisdiction over the site, was recorded in the Manly Daily as saying “that all options for the site are now on the table”.  This raises questions as to whether the voice and will of our community has been sufficiently heard and accepted.  During the course of the ensuing Bi-Election, for the the vacated NSW seat of Manly, there were re-assuring remarks made by our new Premier Gladys Berejiklian (also born at Manly Hospital) that she was happy to continue with the direction taken by the previous Local Member and Premier (Mike Baird).

At the well attended community meetings arranged for the four major candidates vying for the seat of Manly in a recent namely :-

  • Kathryn Ridge – Independent
  • James Griffin – Liberal
  • Clara Williams Rolan – Greens
  • Ron Delezio – Independent

all candidates indicated they were highly supportive of the Manly Hospital site being held in private hands, remaining in public ownership and being used to fill the many and varied gaps in our current Health Care capabilities.   After the election of James Griffin to the NSW seat of Manly, he announced that he was planning to establish a Manly Community Advisory Committee, consisting of 3 sub-committees, one of which was Health (within which the “Future of the Manly Hospital Site” would be included). The original MCHAG, which was in the process of being restructured under the auspices of the Johnstaff Consulting firm, has either been terminated or delayed by NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazard.   The kick-off workshops which had been planned for April’17, have been delayed another month or possibly indefinitely.

Current Plans

There is probably only 12 months left before the Manly Hospital site is vacated, so delaying further NSW Government sponsored studies on the site’s use is another concern.   In the meantime, there is much that can be done and much that is needing to be done.   Brad Hazzard recently authorised us to arrange a Manly Hospital site visit and a tour of the 13 existing Manly buildings earmarked for re-use and renovation working with Frank Bazik, Northern Beaches Health Services/Hornsby Kur-ing-gai Health Services.  An executive member of Manly Hospital, supporting us obtain high level floor plans for each level of these building.   There is much such information available at and though the current Manly Hospital administration that is and will be highly relevant to the effective future use of the site and its quick start-up.  We have already complete an external assessment of the site and an internal inspection of all site building as part of our building re-use strategy formulation.

The main initiative now underway is the provision of a Facebook Page (Manly Community Health Care Facility) and on-going development of this associated website (Yourself Helper).

As a “Registered” website user, you are invited to keep us posted on this aspect of the project for sharing across the broader Manly Community

You can do this by making “Comments” in the blogging box below.              

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