Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Ali­son Bald­ing

FED up with watch­ing ser­vices stripped from Mt Druitt Hos­pi­tal, Emerton res­i­dent Bill Arm­strong took his con­cerns straight to the Queen.

The 79-year-old wrote to Her Majesty in Oc­to­ber about “the dis­mem­ber­ment of ser­vices” pro­vided by the hos­pi­tal, af­ter learn­ing she had of­fi­cially opened it in Oc­to­ber 1982.

Health Min­is­ter Jil­lian Skin­ner de­fended the Lib­eral Party’s plan for the hos­pi­tal, point­ing to the $700 mil­lion com­mit­ted to the Black­town Mt Druitt Hos­pi­tal re­de­vel­op­ment.

FED up with watch­ing Mt Druitt Hos­pi­tal re­sem­ble “a field aid sta­tion”, like that in US com­edy se­ries MASH, Bill Arm­strong took his con­cerns straight to the top – the Queen.

The Emerton res­i­dent wrote to Her Majesty in Oc­to­ber about “the dis­mem­ber­ment of ser­vices” pro­vided by the hos­pi­tal.

“In the name of bud­getary con­straints the NSW State Govern­ment has seen fit to emas­cu­late this once fine es­tab­lish­ment by the re­moval of many im­por­tant ser­vices such as the car­diac unit, gen­eral surgery, crit­i­cal re­cov­ery and gen­eral ward,” Mr Arm­strong said in the let­ter.

The 79-year-old told The Stan­dard he de­cided to write to the Queen af­ter learn­ing she had of­fi­cially opened Mt Druitt Hos­pi­tal in 1982.

“In­stead of el­e­vat­ing peo­ple to cer­tain po­si­tions, we need to re­alise they have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to us,” Mr Arm­strong said.

“If you open a fa­cil­ity, if you put a plaque on the wall with your name on it, it is the same as a sig­na­ture on a let­ter or con­tract. By do­ing that you have ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity for that fa­cil­ity and should face up to that re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

De­spite his strong views, Mr Arm­strong was still sur­prised to re­ceive a re­ply from “the palace” less than a month later. A let­ter signed by Buckingham se­nior cor­re­spon­dence of­fi­cer So­nia Bonici thanked Mr Arm­strong and re­ferred the mat­ter to the Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral.

In De­cem­ber, Mr Arm­strong re­ceived a re­ply signed by Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral deputy of­fi­cial sec­re­tary Stephen Murtagh, who wrote “the Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral can­not be­come in­volved in mat­ters that are the re­spon­si­bil­ity of gov­ern­ments”.

Mr Arm­strong said he was not sur­prised by what he de­scribed as a “com­plete dis­missal” of his con­cerns.

“I think what’s hap­pen­ing at Mt Druitt Hos­pi­tal de­serves in­ter­ven­tion be­cause if it’s good enough for the Queen to open, it is good enough for the Govern­ment to sup­port it,” he said.


The Queen opens Mt Druitt Hos­pi­tal in 1982.

His­tor­i­cal pic­ture: COUR­TESY OF DICK SIMP­SON

The Queen at the open­ing of Mt Druitt Hos­pi­tal in 1982 (left) and the re­sponse Bill Arm­strong re­ceived from Buckingham Palace.

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