Fears for future of services after cuts

Is Mount Druitt Hospital becoming more of a community health centre than a hospital?

It's a question asked by the state opposition and Health Services Union (HSU) in response to the Coalition's federal and state government health cuts.

It follows plans to move the cardiac ward to Blacktown and recent axing of funding for an MRI scanner at Mount Druitt.

"It's clear both governments are neglecting western Sydney, particularly those who rely on Mount Druitt Hospital," Opposition Leader John Robertson said.

HSU delegate and hospital supply manager John Lawrence has worked at Mount Druitt for 15 years.

"The refurbishments at the hospital are great but there's no money for staff," Mr Lawrence said.

"Of the three service assistants who left before Christmas, only two will be replaced. It puts us behind in cleaning the extra facilities."

The number of beds at Mount Druitt has almost halved since 1982, says Mount Druitt MP Richard Amery.

He has been trying to find out the percentage of local elective surgery patients.

"Many are coming here from Hornsby, Baulkham Hills, even the Hunter," Mr Amery said.

"I fear Mount Druitt has become a service for the state health system. If 50 per cent of elective surgery patients come from this area, I'll be surprised. It should be a hospital for Mount Druitt."

Hospital general manager Andrew Newton denied that staff positions had been cut.

There were 679 elective surgery patients from the 2770 postcode in 2013, but questions about the total number of patients went unanswered.

Mr Newton says moving the cardiac ward won't happen before July.

"The Mount Druitt campus is being strengthened with rehabilitation services, dental, urgent care and the expansion of ultrasound service," he said.

"The Breast Cancer Institute is upgrading the breast screening unit at Mount Druitt Campus to provide a more comprehensive service."

Meanwhile, health minister Jillian Skinner has hit back at Opposition Leader John Robertson's claims that $3 billion has been slashed from the NSW health system.

"Labor's scaremongering is shameful and an insult to Mt Druitt Hospital's hard working staff," Ms Skinner said

"Mount Druitt Hospital is an important facility which plays a vital role in the delivery of health care to its community.

"The NSW Liberals and Nationals are investing more in this area of Sydney than ever before.

"This year alone, the Western Sydney Local Health District budget increased by $58.6 million to $1.41 billion.

"Instead of media stunts, we are getting on with the job of rebuilding the health system after almost two decades of Labor neglect."

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