Mid North Coast to suffer under $150m cuts, Labor claims
THE Mid North Coast Local Health District is one of the 15 across NSW that the State Opposition claims will suffer under $150 million worth of cuts this financial year.
Leaked documents obtained by Labor alleges NSW Health must achieve total cost savings of $252 million during 2019-20 in order to deliver on the Berejiklian Government's election commitments.
Labor Leader Jodi McKay confronted Premier Gladys Berejiklian about the documents during Question Time in parliament this week, saying the health system is already struggling to 'cope'.
Ms Berejiklian however refuted the claims and questioned the validity of the leaked documents.
"The best point of reference for what a government is doing in relation to spending … is the budget papers.
"When you look at the Health recurrent spending, which is the day-to-day spending that this Government invests in Health, it is around $24 billion."
A NSW Health spokesperson has confirmed to The Advocate that all health districts and speciality health networks received budget increases for the 2019-2020 financial year.
"There were no budget cuts and the Health budget was a record $24 billion," the spokesperson said.
The 2019-2020 budget for the Mid North Coast Local Health District is $673 million, an increase of $31 million on the previous year's annualised budget.
"Wise use of health funding is important and all local health districts and networks are encouraged to drive efficiencies in back office functions to produce the best use of health funding for where it matters most - our patients," the spokesperson said.
"There are no reductions on frontline staff and as per government commitments NSW Health will recruit an additional 8,300 front line staff over the next four years."
Following news of the leaked documents, the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association called on the Minister for Health Brad Hazzard to explain the alleged cuts.
NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said despite the Berejiklian Government claiming a record health budget, the reality inside many public hospitals was already "dire".
"For months we've had reports of horrendous short staffing issues and widespread accounts of nurse staffing vacancies being left unfilled for weeks on end," he said.
"According to the documents, $150 million of the $252 million in cost savings has been specifically placed on the state's 15 Local Health Districts and three Speciality Health Networks to find.
"The idea this amount could be saved entirely from procurements is, quite simply, farcical. Clearly, it has spilled into current staffing vacancies, as well as cuts to frontline staff, under the guise of staffing profile improvements."