Peter Cooper is one of a growing number of people choosing Port Stephens as a place to see out their retirement years.
But as a survivor of three heart attacks, the 72-year-old grandfather of four also knows the importance of having an ambulance service and major hospital in close proximity to home.
“It could be a matter of life or death for me,” the Raymond Terrace resident said. “I have had three bypasses, I have five stents, a pacemaker and a defibrillator.
“If I have another heart attack I would like to think I can get emergency treatment quickly. Port Stephens is a growing area and it’s hard to believe with a population of 70,000 it does not have a major hospital.”
Mr Cooper suggests governments investigate the feasibility of a health hub combining a major hospital with a mega ambulance station in the vicinity of Paul’s Corner at Salt Ash.
“Paul’s Corner is centrally located and it is close to Williamtown airport if we ever had a major incident there,” he said.
“The Tomaree Community Hospital does not treat emergency patients and to get to John Hunter Hospital it can take up to an hour by road followed by a 4-6 hour wait to be treated.”
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Hunter New England Health said it had no plans to establish a hospital at Salt Ash and that Port Stephens residents have access to a range of quality health services at Tomaree Community Hospital, Nelson Bay and Raymond Terrace health centres.
Mr Cooper said that he understood funding would be an obstacle and “all three levels of government would have to work together”.
“Port Stephens and Newcastle councils have financial interests in the airport,” he said. “The state recently proposed to spend $2 billion on sporting facilities in Sydney and the Department of Defence is spending close to $1 billion on infrastructure at Williamtown RAAF Base.
“Surely these tiers of government can get together, do some forward planning and spend some money on Port Stephens infrastructure.”
Mr Cooper said a high school and TAFE college could also be considered as the Port’s population grew into the future.