Come clean on campus cuts: Fraser

A COFFS Coast MP is calling on the government to put the rumours to rest on the threat of budget cuts at Coffs Harbour Health Campus (CHHC).

The member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, said hospital staff and the community deserve immediate clarification of rumours currently circulating that the CHHC budget for 2008/09 has been cut.

“It would be totally unacceptable if the government has cut recurrent funding to the campus at a time when a recent VRE outbreak has meant that elective surgery waiting lists have been cancelled, which further adds strain for the hospital to 'catch up' over the next 12 months,” Mr Fraser said.

“The CHHC deserves more funding, not less, to support the growing needs of the community.”

The statewide Health Budget is currently under review following the failed attempt to privatise electricity last week, a move the government is blaming on the Opposition's lack of support for privatisation.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Health Reba Meagher said a current review would mean some hospital projects may be delayed.

“Every health project on our major capital plan now needs to be reviewed and reprioritised, regardless of when the commitment was made, and will be put down in a mini budget in 10 weeks time,” the spokeswoman said.

While a spokesman for the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) said the operating budgets of all NCAHS hospitals have been increased in 2008/09, what fruit the 'mini budget' will bear is yet to be announced.

Mr Fraser said the lack of transparency in the budget process means the community has been unable to ascertain the actual budget figures for the CHHC in recent years.

“Information provided to me indicates that the CHHC is chronically unfunded and currently running at a huge deficit,” he said.

“Reba Meagher and the North Coast Area Health Service must advise of the budget to immediately put any fears to rest.”

Ms Meagher said the State's hospitals are performing better than ever, despite a 4.5 per cent increase in the number of people attending emergency departments in the past year.

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