In just over a week the St Vincents Hospital rehabilitation unit is due to close, but the future of Lismores rehabilitation services remains in limbo, with the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) and St Vincents Hospital as yet unable to reach a resolution.
However, in a press release issued by St Vincents Hospital on Tuesday it appears money is at the centre of the debate.
St Vincents chief executive Bob Walsh said in the release that the hospital was trying to work with the NCAHS to establish an equitable arrangement however NCAHS continue to stall proceedings by offering a rate that is below the national health fund rate.
The hospital, Mr Walsh said, cannot continue to subsidise government services any more.
St Vincents Hospitals controversial decision to close its 33-bed rehabilitation unit on December 15 sparked a public outcry two months ago and forced the NCAHS to develop a contingency plan to offset the closure and ensure rehab services were maintained in Lismore.
A spokesman for the NCAHS yesterday said work has begun on the contingency plan, due to come into place by January 18.
Under the plan, rehabilitation services in Lismore will be maintained with 12 rehabilitation beds at Lismore Base Hospital and another 18 beds at Ballina District Hospital, with the beds to remain in place until a new Ballina facility opens in February 2008.
St Vincents board chairman Frank Hannigan said in Tuesdays press release that the hospital would also open a private rehabilitation service early next year.
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