Prime minister Tony Abbott’s health cuts are putting critical pressure on western Sydney’s struggling health system, according to federal shadow health minister Catherine King.
Reports last week that 26,000 patients had to seek medical treatment outside their area due to poor access to services will only be worsened by Mr Abbott’s health cuts.
The federal government has cut more than $203 million from NSW public hospitals, including $6 million for an MRI licence at Mount Druitt.Ms King and federal Chifley MP Ed Husic were at Mount Druitt on Monday (April 14) to hear about the pressures on patients from local GPs, Medicare Local Western Sydney staff as well as patients and staff at Mount Druitt Hospital.
“Patients in western Sydney are already struggling to get the services they need. An end to bulk billing, a tax on doctor visits and a hospital tax will cripple health services in western Sydney,” Ms King said.
“It’s time the NSW government stood up to Tony Abbott’s health cuts and publicly opposed plans to introduce a hospital tax. Tony Abbott’s twisted budget priorities are hurting families in Western Sydney and the decisions being made in secret will only exacerbate the situation.”
Mr Husic added:
“Over 4000 local residents signed a petition for an MRI licence for Mt Druitt hospital. One of Tony Abbott’s first acts as Prime Minister was to cut this funding and deny patients in Mt Druitt the health services they deserve. By taking our vital equipment and shutting down wards, the Federal and State Liberal Governments are simply hollowing out Mount Druitt Hospital. They're downgrading the hospital and Mount Druitt doesn't deserve a second class health system. When confronted with the news of the Abbott Government's cuts to Mount Druitt Hospital, the NSW Health Minister played politics, sticking up for her federal mates instead of local patients.”
In 2011/12 only 72 per cent of patients in Western Sydney were treated at a local hospital.
Ms King said federal Labor addressed this while in government by promising nearly $120 million of equipment and workforce investments in western Sydney health infrastructure, which included funding for MRI services at Mount Druitt Hospital.