THE Greens have slammed proposals by NSW Health to slash 500 jobs across North Coast hospitals saying the cuts will have a drastic effect on the care of mental health patients in the region.
Lismore Greens candidate Adam Guise said the Northern Rivers had one of the highest number of mental health self-harm admissions in NSW.
"Hospital admissions per head of population for self-harm in the Northern NSW Local Health District are occurring 38% more frequently than for the rest of the state," he said.
NSW Health statistics show mental health hospital admissions on the Northern Rivers have been increasing since the 1990s.
"The 2011-12 Northern NSW LHD self-harm hospitalisation rate of 178/100,000 was higher than the NSW average of 129/100,000, and there has been an increasing trend in hospitalisations in the Northern NSW LHD since the mid 1990s, particularly in females aged 15-24 years," the Northern NSW Local Health District website states.
Mr Guise said replacing permanent nursing positions with casuals would result in a reduced level of care for mental health patients.
Member for Lismore Thomas George said the casualisation of mental health staff in Northern NSW hospitals was not happening.
"The only casual staff they get is when the numbers in the metal health unit increase to capacity," he said.