IT HAS been four years since the Leeton District Hospital's operating theatre was last used and it appears surgery will not be taking place there anytime soon.
Leeton Shire Council general manager Jackie Kruger told last week's ordinary monthly meeting a representative from the Murrumbidgee Local Health District had informed council the theatre "does not meet modern theatre standards".
This is despite the theatre having undergone a complete renovation and refurbishment in 2010.
The issue of the theatre was also recently raised by Member for Murray Helen Dalton, who again asked why it wasn't be used for minor procedures.
MLHD director clinical operations Cherie Puckett said although it is not currently operational, the operating theatre and equipment at Leeton hospital is maintained.
"Surgical services across the MLHD are regularly reviewed as part of our planning processes," she said.
"Surgical services for Leeton residents are provided at Narrandera and Griffith hospitals.
"The operating theatres at both Narrandera and Griffith are well staffed to cover the volume of patients.
"All Leeton patients are receiving their urgent and elective surgeries within the appropriate clinical timeframes, as determined by their surgeon."
However, with the MLHD saying the theatre and its equipment are maintained, the question remains as to why it isn't being used.
At that time MLHD Leeton cluster manager Craig McColm said the surgical services weren't able to be provided due to the "unavailability of suitably qualified and experienced registered nurses".
Leeton is home to several general practitioners who are qualified to perform minor surgeries.
The community, council and Mrs Dalton have also been pushing for answers on where the planned upgrade to certain areas of the hospital is up to after the state government committed $2.5 million for the work.
Ms Puckett said planning continued for this upgrade, which includes renovations and expansion of the emergency department, maternity, ambulatory care, ward refurbishments and service access.
"The district asset management team has engaged public works advisory who are working with local staff to develop the concept plans," she said.
"The community will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the plans as they are developed, through the Local Health Advisory Committee and the Leeton council.
"The tender process will follow the completion of the detailed designs."
Initial concept plans for the ED include a safe, private area for relevant patients to be assessed.
"The safety of staff working in the ED is a priority for Leeton hospital," Ms Puckett said.
"The hospital will consult with staff to review the current roster to ensure there are two people present at all times and that staff feel safe and supported."