June 30 - July 6, 2019: Issue 411


Advocates Condemn Mona Vale Hospital Demolition Announcement as Inquiry into NBH and MVH commences

Hospital campaigners have condemned state government plans for the imminent demolition of Mona Vale Hospital’s main building, just as a Parliamentary inquiry into the Northern Beaches Hospital begins.  

Health Minister Brad Hazzard was reported this weekend as saying construction crews are preparing to demolish the main building at Mona Vale Hospital – to be replaced by a new ambulance station.

On December 12th, 2018, Mr. Hazzard was recorded stating he had no plans to demolish the community hospital, although also stating then that;

'there may be parts of it with asbestos - I haven't seen anything at all about that. But there is no intent to demolish anything.'

On September 23rd, 2010 Mr. Hazzard addressed a question in Parliament to then NSW Minister of Health, Carmel Tebbutt, in asking the minister about asbestos in Mona Vale Hospital; 'How does the Minister justify asbestos still being in Mona Vale Hospital facilities?

Minister Tebbutt answered one month later;

Asbestos was a common building product in the 1960s when Mona Vale Hospital was first constructed and still exists in the general community today. 

Asbestos management is a high priority for Mona Vale Hospital management and the control and containment is managed in accordance with legislative requirements.

Regular reviews are undertaken and a major asbestos audit for Mona Vale Hospital was conducted in July 2010 providing recommendations including air monitoring requirements. Priority areas for asbestos removal have been identified and a progressive removal strategy is being undertaken. 

Ongoing safety measures are being undertaken by the Area Health Service to ensure the wellbeing of staff, patients and visitors at Mona Vale Hospital. 

On Saturday, 26 March 2011 the 16-year-incumbent Labor Party government led by Premier Kristina Keneally was defeated in a landslide by the Liberal–National Coalition opposition led by Barry O'Farrell.

Over eight years later it appears the progressive removal strategy has not been advanced and the presence of asbestos in the main structure (the previous nurses home and tower), is being cited as a reason it is more cost-effective to raze the whole structure. 

The Northern Beaches Health Service Redevelopment project began in 2012. As well as the new hospital at Frenchs Forest, the redevelopment of Mona Vale Hospital and the development of a number of community health facilities were and are part of the broader plan. Such works are overseen by NSW Health Infrastructure.

In 2012 a petition of 11,864 signatures was presented to Pittwater's MP, the Hon. Rob Stokes. The Signatures were gathered by Newport GP Dr. Suzanne Daly after attending a 2012 community meeting in which she saw that nothing was to be left at Mona Vale Hospital

In May 2013 the petition was finally presented in Parliament to, according to Dr. Daly, an almost empty room(see Pittwater Pathways video below).

On June 2nd 2018 a GIPA (Government Information Public Access) application was lodged by Phil Walker with NSW Government Health requesting: -

"The business case for demolition of Main Building, Nurses Home, Engineering & Hydrotherapy Pool at Mona Vale Hospital".

On July 13th, 2018 the decision stated one (1) document was identified falling within the scope of the application and that a decision had been made which was to refuse access to this one and only document.

The reason given was the same for a similar GIPA application was that this document was presented to the Expenditure Review Committee of Cabinet and was therefore "Cabinet Privilege".

On March 23, 2017, Rob Stokes MP for Pittwater announced that more than 20 health care providers had responded to a Registration of Interest (ROI) process for additional health services to be co-located at Mona Vale Hospital.

These additional services would be provided alongside a range of existing and new health services including 24/7 Urgent Care, medical imaging, pathology, pharmacy, inpatient rehabilitation and assessment, inpatient geriatric evaluation and management, inpatient palliative care and a diversity of community health services.

The Registrations of Interest is now, apparently, being progressed to Expressions of Interest for the construction of private facilities. 

As before, and since 2012, it has been reiterated that the MVH land will stay in public hands.

What's built on the land may not...

Tenders for demolition of the main building closed on March 1st, 2019. 

Included in that List of Works is the construction of a 'Village Green'. Mark Horton attended a MVH Community Information session in July 2014, and when refused a copy, took a picture with his phone of this display:

'MVH Hospt. Village Green post 2018' - title and photo courtesy Mark Horton

He had heard people speak of hospitals as if they were a secondary consideration. He had heard them say that a certain site was too good. There was no site too good for a hospital (Applause.)

 “There was no institution that could be created by man that needed a locality of greater beauty and of greater salubrity than a hospital” – Sir Henry Parkes (the ‘Father of Federation’), Tuesday 29th of May, 1888  ...when speaking of the Carrington Convalescent Hospital, opened 1890, and a forerunner in that district of the Camden Cottage Hospital, opened 1899 and current Camden District Hospital.

Yesterday, June 29th, Save Mona Vale Hospital chairman Parry Thomas said the community would be outraged by the demolition of the building while the inquiry is underway.  

“It’s offensive, appalling and unbelievable that the government would choose this point in time to demolish the hospital’s main building - just as a Parliamentary inquiry is beginning into hospital services on the northern beaches,” Mr Thomas told Pittwater Online News.

“It shows a total disregard for the community and Parliamentary process that they’re not prepared to wait for the findings of the inquiry.

“The community has told them that they want Mona Vale upgraded and restored as an acute care hospital and we are outraged at the actions of the government.” 

Terms of the NSW Upper House Inquiry into the Northern Beaches Hospital are wide-ranging, including: “The impact of the hospital on surrounding communities and health facilities, particularly Mona Vale Hospital, Manly Hospital and Royal North Shore Hospital”.

Labor Health spokesman Walt Secord, who – established the inquiry earlier this month - said it would “help lift the cloak of secrecy surrounding the private-public partnership (PPP)”. 

“Since the Northern Beaches Hospital opened its doors late last year, it has lurched from crisis to crisis,” Mr Secord said in a statement earlier this month. 

“The hospital has been a basket case with patients sent to the Royal North Shore Hospital for treatment – bypassing the facility.”

Submissions should be lodged by July 28 and the inquiry committee will report to Parliament by the first sitting day in 2020.

Mr Thomas encouraged everyone in the Northern Beaches community to make a submission to let Parliament know how the loss of acute services at Mona Vale Hospital has affected them and their families – and any impact they foresee in the future.

It is also a chance to reveal their experiences at Northern Beaches Hospital, he said. 

“This is a unique opportunity to have your voice heard by making a submission – no matter how brief - to the inquiry,” Mr Thomas said.

Full terms of the inquiry can be found at: HERE

Submissions can be lodged online at: 


Mona Vale Hospital Committee suggests submissions could cover:

Mona Vale Hospital

  • Access – distance, time and hazards
  • Loss of services
  • Need for acute/emergency services

On Northern Beaches Hospital

  • Personal experiences at the hospital
  • Availability of services – and public versus private issues
  • Transport 

Mr Thomas said Pittwater residents could follow the Save Mona Vale Hospital Facebook page to keep up to date on timing of the demolition.