Where’s your pledge?
ON THE back of a huge win for the Tweed Hospital through a Greens' election promise of $100 million, the Medical Staff Council has challenged other Richmond candidates to follow suit.
Speaking on behalf of the Medical Staff Council, co-chair Dr Mike Lindley-Jones said following the pledge made by Greens leader Senator Di Natale on Friday for $100m no contact had been made from other candidates.
"We will be asking Labor's Justine Elliot and Nationals' Matthew Fraser this week if they are prepared to match the Greens' offer," Dr Lindley-Jones said.
Both parties now urged to make a promise have made contact with the Medical Staff Council who, in partnership with the Tweed Daily News, have campaigned over the last eight weeks for Federal Government funding to support the cost of redeveloping the hospital.
* In May, surgeon Dr Stephen White said the Tweed Hospital urgently needed a redevelopment because patients were "pressured" to leave early after procedures to make way for new admissions.
* Cancer lead Dr Ehtesham Abdi said in 2009 the former Labor government had set aside $500m for Regional Cancer Centres, but the Tweed had missed out.
* Oncologist Dr Ratnesh Srivastav of Tweed Hospital cancer ward had seen a 150% increase in patients since 2009, with patients forced to travel to Lismore, John Flynn and Gold Coast University hospitals for radiology treatment.
* Paediatrician Dr David McMaster said the baby ward was at critical capacity, admitting up to 12 babies at a time, even though it's only meant to have six.
* Orthopedic surgeon Dr Jason Tsung said patients in agony and in need of a joint replacement were waiting up to five months just to get on the 12-month surgery waiting list.
* Dr Saxon Smith of AMA NSW backed the calls for funding, saying there was a need for "significant investment" in the hospital.
Nationals candidate Matthew Fraser said he and Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash had visited the hospital but said it was uncertain what amount was needed, with the figure to be finalised in coming months.
Mrs Elliot maintained the onus remains on the NSW Government and Tweed MP Geoff Provest to fund the hospitals. Northern NSW Local Health District admitted failure in asking for only $48million for the hospital's Stage One redevelopment when close to $140m was needed.
Mr Provest maintains hospitals can and have been Federally funded, citing the case of former Labor MP Janelle Saffin who secured more than $100m million for Lismore Base Hospital.
Doctors and the Greens' have highlighted that cancer care, radiotherapy and MRI scanners are directly federally funded.
Dr Lindley-Jones 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.
Doctors remain steadfast in their commitment to lobby Canberra, warning a crisis was looming with the Tweed's population expected to reach 100,000 by 2021, compared to Coffs Harbour's 80,000 and Lismore's 50,000.
"We want the Tweed Hospital to be redeveloped and we're not concerned about where the money comes from we just want our patients to have the medical services they deserve," Dr Lindley-Jones said.