Health Services’ Union sub-branch president at Lismore Base Hospital Therese Crollick.
Health Services’ Union sub-branch president at Lismore Base Hospital Therese Crollick. THe Northern Star/David Nielsen

Public urged to rally against $200m health cuts

PEOPLE are being urged by health service union officials and Labor and National party members to protest against $200 million worth of cutbacks planned for the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS).

Public rallies against the budgetary cutbacks are being planned across the North Coast this weekend, including Lismore and Casino.

Health Services’ Union Sub-Branch President at Lismore Base Hospital, Therese Crollick, said the public rallies were necessary because the cutbacks were ‘a social justice issue that went beyond political allegiances’.

NSW Health Minister John Della Bosca was reported on Monday as saying 400 jobs would be lost from health services in the region, but that there would be no forced redundancies or cuts to frontline services.

Clarence Nationals MP Steve Cansdell is urging locals to show up in force at the various rallies.

“Only people power can save our hospitals now,” he said.

“It appears we will lose 20 full-time positions at Casino, and an unspecified number in Coraki.

“But we need more hospital staff, not less. I am absolutely disgusted Labor could do this to the North Coast.

“If Labor goes ahead with these cuts, Richmond Valley residents will die unnecessarily – it is as simple and as tragic as that.”

Mr Cansdell said that as well as ‘ordinary locals’, he wanted to see all of the region’s elected representatives attend the rallies.

“Our hospitals aren’t just State Government business, they are everyone’s business,” Mr Cansdell said.

Lismore Mayor and Labor Party member Cr Jenny Dowell confirmed she would be attending and speaking at the rally in Lismore this weekend.

“I think we need to protect jobs in our area and ensure a high level of service provision for our base hospital,” she said.

National’s leader Andrew Stoner said yesterday that lives would be lost on the North Coast due to Nathan Rees’ disastrous mini-budget cuts.

“Nathan Rees must be under no illusion that his cuts to the North Coast will result in lives being lost,” Mr Stoner said.

“North Coast hospitals simply can’t sustain 400 job losses. This move by State Labor will impact on patient safety.”

Mrs Crollick challenged NCAHS Service Chief Executive Chris Crawford to also attend the Lismore rally.

“Chris should come in on the side of the unions and tell Della Bosca that they simply aren’t going to wear the decision,” she said.

The Northern Star asked the NCAHS if Mr Crawford would attend the rally, but they would not comment.

A spokesperson for Mr Della Bosca said: “The rallies are simply a National Party stunt and there has been a general misunderstanding about the request.

“The budget of the health service has not been cut and all savings made by the service will be retained by them and used to treat more patients.”

Mrs Crollick said if funding cuts went ahead, upgrades to the Lismore Base Hospital may be pointless.

“We have this huge new mental health facility, and plans to expand the hospital, but who is going to be left to run the place?” she said

Rallies against the $200 million cutback to North Coast Area Health Services will take place at:
  • Spinks Park, in Lismore, on Saturday at 1pm.
  • Outside Casino Hospital, on the corner of Hotham and Canterbury streets, at 11.30am on Sunday.

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