IT was in June last year that Member for Bathurst Paul Toole was joined by then Bathurst Health Service general manager Sue Patterson to be photographed on a cold, windy day as they discussed ways to increase the number of car parking spaces at the hospital.
It was something of a curious media call.
They were not there to announce plans to build a new car park or to confirm funding had been made available.
No, they were simply discussing the options – and wanted the world to know about it.
Of course, the little show was fooling no-one. Everyone knew it could only mean one thing: That a funding announcement was imminent.
And, sure enough, on August 1 came the confirmation that money for the new car park had been found and that planning would begin straight away.
By the time the first sod is turned for the new car park in about three weeks, it will have been just on 12 months since that first media call.
That’s another 12 months that visitors to the hospital have had to endure the seemingly endless search for a parking spot but at least we’re now 12 months closer to the problem being alleviated a little, if not solved.
However, we do not need to hear any more about the car park now – we need to see the work get under way.
The people of Bathurst have already waited too long for what should have been a priority even before the $100 million hospital upgrade was opened in 2008.
The planned work will take the parking spots at the hospital from to 283 to 360 but already there are concerns that won’t be enough.
And that’s disappointing given the tremendous work that has gone into upgrading services at the hospital in recent years after the people of Bathurst were left feeling like the forgotten neighbours of Orange and Dubbo for so long.
Orthopaedic services, in particular, have been boosted to create something of a Central West hub and hospital management has embarked on a concerted recruitment program.
But the quality of service inside the hospital can easily let down by something as simple as a lack of parking outside.
That said, though, even if these new spaces don’t solve all the parking problems, at least they will be a step in the right direction.