Western health losing millions, says Labor

WESTERN NSW residents are bearing the brunt of millions of dollars in health cuts, says Opposition leader John Robertson.

Mr Robertson said documents obtained under freedom of information showed the Western NSW Local Health District was facing the largest cuts of all the health districts.

Mr Robertson said the Western LHD had more than $4 million cut from its staffing budget over the past year and faced cuts of $35 million over the next four years.

But Member for Bathurst Paul Toole responded by saying that Mr Robertson’s answer was not to meet any budgets.

“John Robertson thinks money grows on trees and that there is an unlimited budget for every department across NSW,” Mr Toole said.

The Opposition leader said the government had been working hard to keep information about the budget cuts quiet.

“For instance, they talk about a ‘labour expense cap’ to disguise the fact that they are staff cuts that impact directly on services,” Mr Robertson said.

He said the NSW Government also talked about “savings” and “efficiency strategies” instead of telling it like it is.

“The idea is to cut costs and reduce budgets and what we are seeing is front line services being affected, longer waiting times, and clogged emergency departments,” Mr Robertson said.

Mr Robertson said the Government had already cut $4.034m from the staffing budget of the Western NSW LHD and, by applying the same formula, was forecasting cuts of $6.8m in 2013-14, $10.4m in 2014-15 and $13.9m in 2015-16.

He said these cuts were significant compared with many other regions. 

“Obviously the government thinks it can get away with it,” Mr Robertson said.

“They have shown total disregard for regional NSW.”

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