Funding for the Orange Health Service has been cut by $2.85 million over three years, the Labor candidate for Calare Jess Jennings has claimed.
Citing figures from the National Health Funding Body's annual report from 2016-17 and "other elements of analysis," Mr Jennings said the Coalition had approved $5.7 million worth of cuts to hospitals across the Calare electorate from 2017 to 2020.
He said the figures also included $1.6 million cut in Bathurst, $320,000 at both Lithgow and Mudgee, $90,000 in Molong and $80,000 at both Blayney and Canowindra.
However, federal member for Calare Andrew Gee dismissed Mr Jennings' attack as a Labor scare campaign.
Mr Jennings said the region's population was increasing but the growth in demand for health services was not being matched by funding.
He said the figures exemplified the Coalition's approach to the health sector.
They seem quite happy to let country people suffer with less services, less health care and diminished hospitals.Jess Jennings, Labor candidate
"The Nationals claim that they represent Australia's regional population yet they have supported the Liberals' cuts to hospitals," he said.
"They seem quite happy to let country people suffer with less services, less health care and diminished hospitals."
With health services in danger of facing a shortage of doctors and a decline in quality, Mr Jennings said urgent action on funding for regional hospitals is required.
"The decline in doctors can be traced back to the general practitioner [GP] tax introduced by the Coalition, which has made things harder in regional areas," he said.
Jess hasn't done his homework. He is relying on an out-of-date report.Andrew Gee, Nationals member for Calare
He said, if elected, Labor will reverse the cuts with its $2.8 billion Better Hospital Fund.
Mr Gee said funding had actually been increased.
"Jess hasn't done his homework. He is relying on an out-of-date report which doesn't distinguish between state and federal funding, but even that shows the total funding for the Western NSW Local Health District increased between 2016 and 2017. The latest report shows it increased again between 2017 and 2018," he said.
"In Calare, the federal government has provided record funding to the region's local health districts, including a $40 million medical school and research facility for Charles Sturt University's Orange campus and a brand new MRI license for Lithgow."
He said federal funding for the Western NSW Local Health District has increased every year from $92.6 million under Labor in 2013 to $198.4 million in 2018.
"It will increase to $285.5 million by the end of the new national hospitals agreement in 2024-25," he said.
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