Govt coughs up hospital funds

THE Tweed Hospital has experi- enced a small win in State Parliament with two funding injections that will help save jobs.

The North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) will receive an immediate $4 million increase to its yearly budget, with a further $37 million next financial year, making it the biggest share for any region in the state.

A meeting between Nationals MPs on the North Coast, including Tweed MP Geoff Provest, with New South Wales director general of Health Deb Piccone and deputy director-general for Strategic Development, Richard Matthews, on Thursday resulted in the budget increase to the health service.

The meeting was called in protest at the announcement last month by New South Wales Health Minister John Della Bosca of a proposed 400 full-time job cuts to hospitals under the NCAHS umbrella, as a way of shaving $200 million from the budget over the next four years.

About 100 protesters gathered at a rally at The Tweed Hospital two weeks ago against a proposed 29 job cuts at the Tweed Heads-based hospital.

Mr Provest, who was pleased with the outcome of the meeting, hopes the money will not get lost between the 22 other hospitals administered in the NCAHS.

"It sounds like a lot, but people sometimes forget NCAHS stretches from Port Macquarie to the Tweed," Mr Provest said.

Mr Provest was also ensured that frontline jobs would not be axed from the hospital roster.

"Our concern now is for the admin and behind-the-scene workers, who may still be at risk," he said.

Mr Provest said the budget increases now, and in the next financial year, ensure the NCAHS gets one of the biggest funding shares in the state.

"We still have a shortfall of $54 million a year," Mr Provest said.

"I am still unhappy about it all."

Mr Provest also brought up fair pay for nurses in the hopes of keeping them on the Tweed.

"At the moment it would be more beneficial for them to work in Queensland. We need to fix that."

The campaign to save the hospitals on the North Coast will continue into the New Year.

"I will pull a number next year to keep them aware of it. We have to keep on them to make sure we get the money we need," Mr Provest said.

"If you are sick you should be treated. People come first and%budgets should come second."

The meeting with Professor Piccone and Mr Matthews mostly impressed the member for Tweed.

"They had a high level of concern about it, but lacked a bit of on-the-ground knowledge," Mr Provest said.



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