Health gains for Tweed
By ED SOUTHORN
THE North Coast Area Health Service received a $61.5 million increase in the NSW budget, including 11 extra beds for Tweed and Murwillumbah hospitals to meet growing patient demand.
The 10.9 per cent funding hike also includes $935,000 for a Tweed breast-screening project and takes the regional health budget to a total of $627.1 million for 2006/7.
Health Minister John Hatzistergos said the allocation is "all about making sure our patients continue to have the very best health care available".
"We're cutting waiting lists, improving service in our emergency departments and making it easier for people to see doc- tors when and where they need to," he said.
Tweed MP Neville Newell said $1 million also had been allocated for a clinical education and research unit co-located at The Tweed Hospital, for training staff who would "be given every opportunity to be retained in the Tweed".
However, Tweed Nationals candidate Geoff Provest said the Tweed was left off a list of 18 country hospitals across NSW to receive major spending in the budget.
Mr Provest said The Tweed Hospital could not cope with heavy demand for emergency services, and its waiting list had risen to 855.
"Pottsville was promised a community health centre a few months ago but no funds were allocated for this in the budget," he said.
A total of 42 additional permanent beds, including six agedcare beds, has been allocated for North Coast hospitals.
The extra beds, costing about $200,000 a year each, include six at Tweed and five at Murwillumbah would come into operation as the appropriate staff are secured.