Lismore Base Hospital.
Lismore Base Hospital.

Saffin: Takeover will fix hospital

THE collapse of Lismore Base Hospital’s nurse paging system, which resulted in an elderly patient having to call Triple-0 from his hospital bed to get a nurse to see him, would not have happened under the Federal Government’s planned hospital takeover, Page MP Janelle Saffin said yesterday.

Ms Saffin said the Government’s plan would change the way funding to hospitals was calculated, which would mean a fairer deal for Lismore Base Hospital.

A spokesperson from North Coast Area Health confirmed the hospital’s maintenance budget had been slashed after the State Government demanded savings of $30 million.

During the second round of job cuts in May, the hospital also lost four maintenance workers and six cleaning staff.

It is also understood that the hospital no longer has a full-time electrician.

In addition to the nurse call system in the hospital’s large surgical ward that has not worked for more than four weeks, one of the two lifts in Block A is not working and is in need of refurbishment.

The area health spokesperson yesterday said repairing the call system (at a cost of $46,000) and lift were its highest priorities, declining to reveal the estimated cost of the backlog in maintenance work.

The hospital’s medical staff council media liaison officer Chris Ingall earlier this week accused area health of running the hospital down in anticipation of the Federal takeover.

NSW Nurses’ Association Lismore Base Hospital branch secretary Gil Wilson said yesterday the hospital was suffering as a result of the cuts.

“I am aware maintenance, like all departments, has taken massive cuts,” he said. “It just a sign of the budgetary constraints being put on the hospital by NCAHS.”

For years the North Coast Area Health Service – and the Northern Rivers Area Health Service before it – have been denied funding it is supposed to get under the State Government’s funding formula.

However, Ms Saffin said the Commonwealth’s plan would introduce a new method of funding based on the amount and type of work done at a hospital. Small hospitals would be guaranteed funding through a ‘block funding’ arrangement.

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