Hospital staff 'run off their feet': budget a sore point with union

NOT ENOUGH MONEY: Central West Union Alliance members Gregson Edwards and Joe Maric say Orange hospital is not being adequately funded for the range of services it has to provide. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

NOT ENOUGH MONEY: Central West Union Alliance members Gregson Edwards and Joe Maric say Orange hospital is not being adequately funded for the range of services it has to provide. Photo: JUDE KEOGH

ORANGE hospital needs a bigger budget to properly live up to its role as a hospital for the people of Orange and as the major treating hospital for the region, according to representatives of the Central West Union Alliance.

Alliance representatives Gregson Edwards and Joe Maric claim oncology, palliative care and rehabilitation services are underfunded, with the levels of staffing and services not keeping up with patient demand.

Mr Edwards told the Central Western Daily $730 million in recurrent funding for the Western NSW Local Health District wasn’t enough, and is calling on the NSW government to release more funding to go directly to Orange hospital.

“The government has a moral obligation to release finances to relieve the hiatus in oncology and palliative care among other services,” he said.

Mr Maric wants more transparency in how the state government is funding health in Orange, saying it is unclear in state budget details what is going directly to health services and what is being channeled into capital works or infrastructure.

Mr Maric said state government funding wasn’t  keeping up with demand for services at Orange hospital since it had become the region’s major trauma and medical hospital.

“People are being flown in here to Orange day and night from other places and without enough staff it’s having an impact on both staff who are run off their feet and patients,” he said.

Mr  Maric said Orange patients were still being sent to smaller hospitals for long-term rehabilitation because enough beds weren’t funded in Orange.

“I have been speaking with a lady who travels from Orange out to Blayney every day to see her father and he’s been there for five weeks already,” he said.

“She’s fortunate she’s been able to take time off from work, but that’s not the case for many people.”

Both men say CWUA members are concerned there is no designated palliative care ward for patients in Orange since one of the wards closed late last year, and there aren’t enough palliative care nurses to support  people to die at home.

Mr Gregson wants to know where the money from the sale of Anson Cottage, the former oncology unit, has been directed.

“That house was donated to the community and there is a moral obligation to ensure the money from the sale of that building goes directly to cancer services in Orange, including oncology and palliative care,” he said.

Mr Maric concedes governments are under pressure with the amount of finances to spend on health in NSW and says increasing the Medicare levy would help solve the problem.

“What people want above everything is a health system that works efficiently,” he said.

Mr Maric said the hard-working hospital auxiliary members who recently raised more than $350,000 for the hospital were filling the financial gaps that should be provided by government.

“Originally that auxiliary was set up to provide patient support not buy equipment that should be funded by the state government,” he said.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au 

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