Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke joined Bronnie Taylor MLC and Cowra Mayor Bill West for a tour of Cowra Hospital, praising the staff for the work they perform under challenging conditions and reaffirming her commitment to keep fighting for a new hospital.

They were shown around the hospital by Scott McLachlan, chief executive officer of Western NSW Local Health District, and by Health Services Manager Pauline Rowston.

“We were lucky enough to be given a tour of Cowra Hospital today and I was immediately struck by the spirit of teamwork which is tangible when you see the staff at work,” Ms Cooke said yesterday.

“I’m blessed to be here with Bronnie Taylor MLC, Parliamentary Secretary to NSW and Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Premier, and having a look at the hospital thanks to Mr McLachlan and Ms Rowston.”

Ms Cooke explained why she had invited Ms Taylor.

“There are two issues facing the hospital at the moment, the first of which is a short-term need around the emergency department, the space that’s available to work in there,” she said.

“The second, bigger issue is the need for a brand new hospital. The staff are absolutely fantastic, they do the most amazing job and, in the case of the emergency department, under quite difficult circumstances.

“I’m looking forward to progressing this fight which I took up during the by-election and was part of my maiden speech.

“I won’t let up until we see those issues in emergency really dealt with and, ultimately, a brand new hospital for Cowra,” she added.

Ms Taylor said she understood how important the visit to the hospital was.

“When the Member for Cootamundra asks you to come along, you hop to it and you come along – I drove about 400km today because this is really important,” she said.

“I think it’s evident that this is a fantastic hospital with incredible staff – as somebody who was a registered nurse for 20 years I love being here.

“But we have got a bit of work to do so I really look forward to working closely with Ms Cooke to get the outcomes the community needs as well as the people working here at the hospital.

“We need to work with them to give them the space they need to be the best that they can be and continue giving the high-quality service that they do,” she said.

Cowra’s mayor, Bill West, said he welcomed the opportunity to highlight the challenges facing the hospital.

“It was important to have our local Member to showcase the issues with the hospital, along with Bronnie Taylor and of course Scott McLachlan, the chief executive of Western Area Health,” he said.

“Firstly there’s the need for a new hospital and the need for the budgetary and planning process to start as soon as possible.

“It does take some time to get to the point where we can get the first sod turned, so we need to get that going sooner rather than later.

“The second issue is the emergency department: it’s an urgent issue which needs to be addressed very quickly,” he said.