CAPTION: Kurri Kurri Hospital was earmarked for closure in March last year but is set to expand.KURRI Kurri Hospital was earmarked for closure in March last year but today, it is ready to expand and provide more services for its Coalfields patients.

Hunter New England Health has lodged a development application with Cessnock City Council to build another wing, which will provide 14 more beds and new administration and waiting areas.

With the proposal tipped to cost more than $1million, the matter has been referred to the council’s planning panel and will be discussed at a meeting next week.

The application has been recommended for approval, subject to approval from the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Hunter New England Health plans building the new wing on the site of the former nurses’ quarters, which were recently demolished.

The hospital, located in Lang Street, was under threat before last year’s state election when it was rumoured the then Labor government had plans to close it or to reduce services and close its emergency department.

In his 2008 report Commissioner Peter Garling, SC, said the emergency department should be closed, and he cast doubt on the hospital’s viability if it did go.

The proposed new wing would also house therapy spaces, patients’ dining area, staff rooms, outdoor therapy area and a covered patient pick-up and drop-off area.