The large crowd that gathered to protest the NCAHS funding cuts in Lismore.
The large crowd that gathered to protest the NCAHS funding cuts in Lismore. Northern Star

Hospitals' huge deficit

A LEAKED document has revealed Lismore Base Hospital is $12 million over budget, according to Ballina MP Don Page.

“The document fell off the back of a truck,” Mr Page said.

Speaking to a crowd of about 100 people at a rally against hospital staff cuts held at Spinks Park, Lismore, on Saturday, Mr Page said the document showed Lismore Base Hospital was running a huge deficit, while Coffs Harbour Hospital was in the red by $12.7 million.

Mr Page said plans to cut 400 positions from across the North Coast Area Health Service would have an adverse impact on patient care.

“If more staff are cut waiting lists will blow out,” Mr Page said.

The hospital was under funded by $70 million per year and occupancy rates ranged from 95 per cent to 106 per cent, while the ideal was 85 per cent, Mr Page said.

“Lismore Base Hospital is over-stretched,” he said.

David Hughes from the NSW Nurses Association said the health service was already cutting jobs.

Mr Hughes, a community nurse from Byron Bay, said colleagues were not replaced when they left.

“We are told the position has been halted or frozen, but what it means is nobody will be working in that job anymore,” Mr Hughes said.

“It is hard to sack someone, but it is easy to just not fill a contract.”

Mr Hughes said cuts to community nursing in Byron Bay meant antenatal classes could no longer run in Bangalow.

Health Services Union representative for Lismore Base Hospital Therese Crollick called for health service boss Chris Crawford to communicate with his staff.

“We know he has a hard job, but please, please communicate with your staff and workers about what is going to happen,” Mrs Crollick said.

The union will be meeting this Thursday to discuss industrial action.

A hospital spokesman said all job cuts would be voluntary, with 400 positions targeted.

“The priority focus for reduction savings will be the corporate and administrative areas,” the spokesman said.

Rallies were held in Lismore, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour and Tweed Heads.

Lismore MP Thomas George will be circulating through the community a petition against the cuts.

The rally was attended by mayors Jenny Dowell, Ross Brown and Phil Silver.



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