NORTH COAST AREA HEALTH SERVICE WAREHOUSING
Mr THOMAS GEORGE
(Lismore) [6.05 p.m.]: I express my disappointment in the decision taken by the North Coast Area Health Service to implement a new plan for the consolidation of its warehousing facility. This follows the indication by the area health service and headlines in the Tweed Daily News
that 400 jobs are to be cut from the service. While the Government advocates providing more jobs, the North Coast Area Health Service under stress is cutting 400 jobs across its region, especially in the Lismore electorate. The service's warehouse is based in Lismore. The proposal is that Goonellabah, Port Macquarie and Tamworth will be consolidated to Cardiff in the second part of this year. Sutherland warehouse will service the South Coast and Greater Southern Area Health Service in late 2009, and other areas in the west and southern part of the State will be consolidated by mid-2010.
Concerns have been expressed to me by those involved not only with the warehouse but also with the North Coast Area Health Service. How can bureaucrats provide reports that recommend consolidating these warehouses. I am pleased to see in the Chamber the Parliamentary Secretary, a person for whom I do not mind admitting my great admiration, Dr Andrew McDonald. He will appreciate my comments. Many costly products are stored at the warehouses rather than at each hospital, and are dispersed urgently as needed by the hospitals. The warehouse carries something like 1,200 lines. A hospital may not need each line every day; staff tell me that many hospitals do not have the storage space for those 1,200 product lines.
I do not care how good the system is, urgent products will not be transported from Cardiff to each hospital overnight. What would have happened for such a request during the floods of the past few days? How could the products have been transported from Cardiff to the North Coast? Bureaucrats have provided advice to the area health service and the Department of Health that these warehouses can be consolidated in one area. Hospitals have limited storage space. What will happen when a hospital has an urgent need for products? What will happen if there is a flood and the Pacific Highway is cut, preventing transportation of those products? Many hospitals get urgent resources delivered daily. Hospitals ring up every afternoon to order supplies that they will need the next morning, or they ring up at the close of the surgery and for supplies they need for surgery the next day.
I do not know where the Government is getting its advice from, but if it keeps destroying local systems and increasing the service areas in the end it will cost lives. Practitioners will not be able to access products when they need them for patients who are desperately ill or in need of treatment. The idea of making Cardiff the dispatch centre for the whole North Coast and as far north as Tweed Heads is beyond belief. The Government is taking away jobs from local areas. The Government claims it has been supporting employment in this State by the creation of 154,000 jobs, but I assure the Government that the North Coast Area Health Service and people who live in the Lismore electorate are absolutely disgusted about the warehousing consolidation that is taking place. I place on the record also our disgust at the loss of 400 jobs from the North Coast Area Health Service.