Election on the list

By ED SOUTHORN

HOSPITAL waiting lists and health services are looming as a NSW election issue in the Tweed.

Nationals leader Andrew Stoner, shadow health minister Jillian Skinner and the party's local candidate Geoff Provest have traded statistics and insults with Labor MP Neville Newell over waiting times for elective surgery and emergency department treatment at The Tweed Hospital.

Mr Stoner claims the hospital's waiting lists have blown out, that Labor was elected in 1995 on a prom- ise to halve waiting lists, and that Mr Newell has done nothing about the problem except "shift uncomfortably in his seat".

Mr Newell accused Mr Stoner of spouting "incorrect waffle".

Mr Stoner called on Premier Morris Iemma to "explain why the people of Tweed have seen their hospital's elective surgery waiting list increase by nearly 400 patients or 71 per cent under his government".

"In 1995 there were 18 people on The Tweed Hospital waiting list who had waited more than 12 months while the latest figures show that figure has jumped to 53."

Mrs Skinner said Mr Iemma had admitted there were fewer than the target 80 per cent of patients with life-threatening conditions seen in NSW hospitals within the required 10 minutes.

Mr Newell said: "The facts regarding The Tweed Hospital waiting lists are, cases waiting 12 months for elective surgery have been reduced from 195 in February 2005 to 50 in February 2006, a reduction of 145."

He said all the most urgent cases had been seen in the benchmark time for many months, and Category 2 was on track at 79 per cent seen in 10 minutes.



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