Toole takes bed fears to Minister

THE community’s concerns over bed closures at Bathurst Base Hospital have been taken to the health minister.

Bathurst MP Paul Toole is acting following the release of plans by the Bathurst Health Service to close five surgical beds from June 3.

This would result in staffing levels being reduced by five full-time nursing positions and see the number of surgical beds in use slashed from 20 to 15.

Members of the Bathurst Medical Staff Council were livid at the news being delivered via email to department heads and medical staff by health service general manager David Wright.

They claimed there had been no consultation about the cuts and that the decision is “purely about saving money”.

READ MORE: Bed closurea mistake, says health boss

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There is also discontent amongst local GPs and local health service staff that nearby Orange Hospital has been given additional funding and services for a number of years, to the detriment of Bathurst.

Mr Toole said yesterday he is concerned at the lack of consultation in the whole process and was raising the matter with Health Minister Jillian Skinner.

“The first I knew of the cutbacks was when I read it on the front page of the Western Advocate last Saturday,” the Bathurst MP said.

“Like members of the medical staff council, I also have concerns about these changes and will be meeting with the health minister and health service chief executive in coming weeks to pass on both mine and the community’s concerns.

“The fact there are ‘surge beds’ available to cope with demand should it arise can’t work unless there’s also staff there to man them.

“We need to come up with a model that is workable to ensure patient care is a priority. There has to be a contingency to bring nurses in when the need to open these surge beds arises, instead of shunting the patients off to Orange.”

As far as Bathurst Base Hospital being a poor cousin when it comes to funding compared to Orange Base Hospital, Mr Toole said the key is to keep building the specialist services out of Bathurst.

“The more activity we can get based here the more funding we can get,” he said.

“There needs to be a strategic plan across the whole district where can we identify what Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo hospitals do well.

“That will come out later this year, and I am sure that will present Bathurst as a centre of excellence when it comes to providing certain health services.

“For example, Bathurst already has two additional dialysis chairs, two new ecologist specialists have started at Daffodil Cottage and the $250,000 refurbishment to the young mental health facility at the hospital was only opened this week.”

Councillor Jess Jennings from Bathurst Regional Council, who is also the Labor candidate for Calare in the upcoming federal election, said the current cuts to vital health services in the NSW hospital system are just a small taste of what’s to come if the federal Coalition is elected to govern Australia in September.

THE community’s concerns over bed closures at Bathurst Base Hospital have been taken to the health minister.

“Make no mistake, the Coalition will reduce money and resources for health,” he said.

“They have made it clear the Medicare local services will go, which in Bathurst provide vital after hours medical and related services.”

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