FAIR GO: Dr Mike Lindley-Jones at Tweed Hospital.
FAIR GO: Dr Mike Lindley-Jones at Tweed Hospital. Scott Powick

Doctors to fight for Tweed residents in Fair Go campaign

TWEED Hospital doctors have challenged all Richmond candidates contesting the July poll to urgently step in and provide more funding and services for the ailing medical facility.

Spearheaded by the Tweed Hospital’s Medical Staff Council, medicos are joining the Tweed Daily News in our Fair Go campaign for a second time, calling for more federal funding for the hospital.

This follows their successful lobbying ahead of last year’s NSW state election to secure a $48 million promise from NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner towards Stage One of the hospital redevelopment.

But costs for Stage One have since blown out to more than $140 million, leaving the hospital with a massive shortfall in funding.

Council chairman Dr Mike Lindley-Jones said a crisis unfolding in the operating theatres, emergency department, mental health wards and lack of critical basic services meant all tiers of government needed to work together to address the problem.

“We are getting pretty desperate here,” Dr Lindley-Jones said.

“Doctors recognise the majority of the hospital is state funded and that there’s a small section that is federally funded.

“But we feel that’s not the patients’ fault.

“If you’re sitting there with a cancer it doesn’t matter whether it comes from state or federal government if you’ve paid your taxes.

“We would hope and expect the federal and state governments would look to work together to help their population. All funding comes from the Federal Government anyway.”

Dr Lindley-Jones listed a federally rebatable MRI scanner and radiology services as just some that could be immediately assisted with federal funds.

He said “nobody could understand” why the MRI, which is used 18 times a day, costing up to $400 per investigation, was not federally rebated, when every MRI on the Gold Coast and in Lismore was.

“If patients aren’t prepared to pay, they have to travel to the Gold Coast Hospital, find parking and walk across the MRI, when we’ve got one sitting right here,” he said.

“There’s also no radiology services at Tweed. There are two linear accelerators at Lismore even though there’s 50% less patients.

“These are basic treatments readily available in areas with a much smaller population than Tweed.”

Dr Lindley-Jones called on MP Justine Elliot (Labor), Nationals’ candidate Matthew Fraser and Greens’ candidate Dawn Walker to advocate on their behalf in Canberra.

He questioned Mrs Elliot and Mr Fraser’s advocacy, saying Mrs Elliot hadn’t “volunteered her support” while Mr Fraser had failed to bring Rural Health Minster Fiona Nash to the hospital when she visited the Tweed.

“There are local representatives and they have a voice and they have powers of advocacy, and we would like to see them talking up on behalf of one of the most important organisations in our area,” Dr Lindley-Jones said.

But Mrs Elliot blamed State MP Geoff Provest for the hospital’s funding problems.

“We know that Geoff Provest and his state Liberal Nationals Government now have a $100 million funding black hole at the Tweed Hospital,” she said.

Mr Fraser said in the future he would try to facilitate meetings with staff where possible.

“If I’m elected I am happy to work with all levels of government and all political parties to get better outcomes for the Tweed because I live in this area and I have a child and I utilise the hospital,” he said.

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