Hospital chief puts the heat back on Provest

NORTH Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford would like a word with Geoff Provest.

The Tweed MP took aim at the health service on Tuesday, telling New South Wales Parliament that The Tweed Hospital was in financial crisis and could close its doors within weeks.

Yesterday Mr Crawford, pictured, slammed the local member for his claims that the hospital was not paying small businesses supplying goods and services to the hospital.

"I invite the Member for Tweed to contact me on a confidential basis if he has been approached by local suppliers concerned about payment for services rendered to The Tweed Hospital," Mr Crawford said.

"In that event, I will ensure that such matters are looked into promptly and that suppliers are contacted about their issues of concern."

Mr Provest said three local businesses approached him over the unpaid bills.

"There is a surgical supplier, meat supplier and disposable paper supplier all affected within the local area," Mr Provest said.

All the while, Mr Provest's counterpart, deputy leader for the Nationals in the Legislative Council Jenny Gardiner, grilled New South Wales Health Minister John Della Bosca in the upper house.

Ms Gardiner questioned the Health Minister over the extent of the debt, fears the hospital may be shut down and any plans to visit the Tweed to deal with the alleged situation.

"It's an outrageous claim, made without any basis and facts, simply made up and you've got it completely wrong," Mr Della Bosca said.

"The Tweed Hospital has received significant clinical staffing and capital works management in recent years. Most local members don't spend their time running down their local hospital like her colleague. The Member for Tweed has told his local newspaper the hospital may have to close its doors in two weeks."

Mr Della Bosca referred to an article in yesterday's Tweed Daily News with claims from Mr Provest who said The Tweed Hospital was broke and could not pay the bills for the supplies it needs for day-to-day operations.

"I simply emphasise to the member that she (Ms Gardiner) is not doing the patients and families of regional NSW any favours, by making fantastic and ridiculous claims about the great job being done in our public hospitals," Mr Della Bosca concluded.

Mr Provest said he was very unhappy with the Health Minister's answers.

Mr Della Bosca also dodged Ms Gardiner's question over visiting The Tweed Hospital to inspect the situation first-hand.

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