North Coast health in more debt

NORTH Coast Area Health struggled to pay its bills last financial year, with the amount owed to creditors hitting $21.5 million, almost double the figure from 2007/08.

The figures, released yesterday in a report by the NSW Auditor-General, also showed NCAHS’ deficit was more than $25 million.

Chief executive Chris Crawford admitted it had been a difficult year.

“But we have done an awful lot to try and respond to it,” he said.

“Now, in December, the amount we owe to creditors is less than $5 million. Of course we want to get that down to zero.”

Mr Crawford said the health service had implemented a budget recovery plan with “15-odd strategies” aimed at reducing the deficit.

One of those is to controversially cut 400 jobs across NCAHS.

“Our principle strategy is to reduce our staff. We’ve reduced numbers by 280 so far, but we still have some work to do,” Mr Crawford said.

“It is not slash and burn – it is a consultative and targeted approach.”



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