Lambley: Asbestos just one problem in hospital

p2351 Robyn Lambley OKLETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Sir – The discovery of asbestos at the hospital, threatening the health of staff and patients, is the perfect time for the NT Government to commit to building a new hospital by 2030.

 

The estimated cost of repairs and maintenance over the next 20 years, including the expensive removal and replacement of asbestos possibly throughout the whole of the main building and beyond, is easily over half a billion dollars.

 

With the Palmerston hospital nearing completion, the Department of Health is at an ideal point to commence work on a new hospital for Alice Springs.”

 
The current hospital was completed in 1976, with planning commencing in 1963. It is now an old, antiquated building that no longer meets many national standards.

 

Nor does it meet the expectation of Central Australian residents and visitors needing to access this important regional acute health service.

 

The NT Government must take this situation very seriously and consider the long term health infrastructure needs of Central Australia. It is not good enough to patch up this old building again and again.

 

Asbestos is just one of the significant problems of the Alice Springs Hospital. There is a serious lack of parking – with a lack of CCTV coverage, and a significant percentage of this parking being unsealed and unsafe.

 

The hospital has run out of space with literally no room for expansion except for vertically, which is not culturally appropriate for a large section of the patients who are Aboriginal people from remote areas.

 

I have been calling for a new hospital for 2030 since 2016, including motions Parliament in May 2016 and then again in March 2017.

 

Both these calls were rejected by the CLP NT Government and then the Labor NT Government.

 

Robyn Lambley MLA (pictured)

Independent Member for Araluen

 

 

 

 

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8 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Posted September 25, 2017 at 11:38 am

    @ R Henry (Posted September 25, 2017 at 9:28 am): You make a fair point but it’s interesting to compare your observations about asbestos with the history of tobacco advertising in Australia.
    The National Archives of Australia provides the following: “The connection between cigarette smoking and lung cancer was already evident by the 1920s. It was, however, in the middle decades of the twentieth century that evidence of the links became more widely known and accepted.
    “The influential British Medical Journal published results of a study in 1950, and in 1956 the first report of the British Doctors Study, a study of some 34,000 doctors, linked smoking to both lung cancer and coronary thrombosis. The United States (US) Surgeon-General announced in 1964 that smoking caused lung cancer. In 1965 cigarette advertising on United Kingdom (UK) television was banned, and health warning labels became compulsory on US cigarette packets.”
    With regards to electronic media, Australia was a full decade behind. The Whitlam Government decided to ban tobacco advertising on radio and TV but the legislation was finally passed by the Fraser Government, coming into effect on September 1, 1976.
    Tobacco advertising in print media didn’t cease until July 1, 1993.
    When it comes to implementing and enforcing public health policies in light of clear scientific evidence, Australia tends to be the laggard; however, once the policies become official, our country rapidly makes up for lost time.
    We are witnessing the same pattern in play for alcohol abuse and atmospheric carbon emissions, both of which have enormous influences on public health.

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  2. R Henry
    Posted September 25, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Alex: The nasties of this product was known as early as the 1920s with some American unions having regulations connected with handling and working with it.
    My father taught us this in the late 1940s and while doing an apprenticeship in the mid 1950s a Belgian tradesman reinforced these learnings and again while in the services late 1950s to early 1960s more knowledge was available.
    So the ADS of Australia report and the fact that is was in use is not an answer to my question.

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  3. Posted September 22, 2017 at 11:06 pm

    In 1968 the design of the planned new Alice Springs hospital was for a four-storey building with a helipad on the roof. A year or so later this design fell out of favour for the current complex subsequently built in the 1970s.
    In the early 1980s the Member for Sadadeen, Denis Collins, revived the idea of a helipad to be located at the Alice Springs hospital.
    Perhaps ironically, the suggestion is now being made by Robyn Lambley to build a new hospital on crown land (the old Butchers’ Paddock) near the Alice Springs Airport.
    However, I contend the best solution is to seriously and genuinely work towards reducing the morbidity of the local population.
    We’ve forgotten the existing hospital complex was designed and built at a time when the population of Alice Springs was anticipated to grow to 50,000 residents by the turn of the century.
    We’ve never come close to this, even on a regional basis, and yet the hospital has often been stretched to its limits over the years.
    Moreover, the whole complex has been undergoing almost continuous upgrading at massive cost to the taxpayer for the last two decades yet invariably it proves to be insufficient to keep up with the apparent demand for health services.

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  4. Posted September 22, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    In 1968 the design of the planned new Alice Springs Hospital was for a four-storey building with a helipad on the roof. A year or so later this design fell out of favour for the current complex subsequently built in the 1970s.
    In the early 1980s the Member for Sadadeen, Denis Collins, revived the idea of a helipad to be located at the Alice Springs Hospital.
    Perhaps ironically, the suggestion is now being made by Robyn Lambley to build a new hospital on crown land (the old Butchers’ Paddock) near the Alice Springs Airport.
    However, I contend the best solution is to seriously and genuinely work towards reducing the morbidity of the local population.
    We’ve forgotten the existing hospital complex was designed and built at a time when the population of Alice Springs was anticipated to grow to 50,000 residents by the turn of the century.
    We’ve never come close to this, even on a regional basis, and yet the hospital has often been stretched to its limits over the years.
    Moreover, the whole complex has been undergoing almost continuous upgrading at massive cost to the taxpayer for the last two decades yet invariably it proves to be insufficient to keep up with the apparent demand for health services.

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  5. Bob
    Posted September 21, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    Can somebody explain culturally appropriate in the following context “… no room for expansion except for vertically, which is not culturally appropriate for a large section of the patients who are Aboriginal people from remote areas”.
    What has a building going up got to do with cultural awareness? If a new building gets done, we can save money on “no smoking signs” as the current ones are not enforced anyway. We do we have to walk through a cloud of cancer causing second hand smoke when we are entering a hospital?

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  6. Posted September 19, 2017 at 8:52 am

    @ R Henry (Posted September 18, 2017 at 3:12 pm) – A quick check of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia website reveals the following: “Most homes built before the mid 1970s contain asbestos in some form, and in fact asbestos building products continued to be used up until the early 1980s.
    “Asbestos was easy to work with, was affordable and had the added quality of being heat resistant.”
    The fact is that the use of asbestos in construction was commonplace in the 1960s and 1970s so it should come as no surprise that it occurs in major construction projects of that time.

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  7. R Henry
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Begs the question why, even in 1963 and definitely in 1976, was asbestos even considered to be used in the hospital or any other building.

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  8. Build the new Hospital
    Posted September 18, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Alice needs a new hospital while interest rates are low. It requires a massive site, allowing for future growth. Indigenous housing is also required, made strong to last. This will create employment and would cost lots more to build in the future.

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