The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has called on the Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, to urgently explain the $150 million worth of cuts earmarked for the state’s Local Health Districts this financial year.
Documents leaked to the State Opposition reveal the Ministry of Health (NSW Health) must achieve total cost savings of $252 million during 2019-20, in order to deliver on the Berejiklian Government’s election commitments.
NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said despite the Health Minister claiming a record $26.7 billion health budget since June, the reality inside many public hospitals was already dire.
“Details revealed by Labor Leader Jodi McKay and Shadow Health Minister Ryan Park confirms the experience of our members working on the frontline of public health,” said Mr Holmes.
“For months we’ve had reports of horrendous short staffing issues and widespread accounts of nurse staffing vacancies being left unfilled for weeks on end.
“According to the documents, $150 million of the $252 million in cost savings has been specifically placed on the state’s 15 Local Health Districts and three Specialty Health Networks to find.
“The idea this amount could be saved entirely from procurements is, quite simply, farcical. Clearly, it has spilled into current staffing vacancies, as well as cuts to frontline staff, under the guise of staffing profile improvements.
“Months ago we were told Hunter New England Health had to find widespread savings, when we raised issues of understaffing concerns.
“We were also told Western NSW Local Health District had to find positions it could cut, meanwhile Central Coast Local Health District has been targeting nursing positions under radical ‘staffing our service’ plan.
“When we asked questions of NSW Health directly, we were told there had been a 4.5% increase in the state’s health budget, record health investment, and then asked why couldn’t we just be happy with 5,000 extra nurses and midwives over the next four years.
“At this rate, the Berejiklian Government will have driven 5,000 nurses and midwives out of their respective professions due to burnout and stress, as they struggle to provide safe patient care inside our public hospitals.
“People accessing our public hospitals deserve to know they’re walking into a properly resourced, adequately funded health facility, not a hospital struggling under the constraints of Treasury caps.”
Download this release: $150million in cuts hazzard-ous for Health Districts