Mr DARYL MAGUIRE
(Wagga Wagga) [12.16 p.m.]: I move:
(1) notes that the Government and the Minister for Health are making Tumut residents wait between 10 to 15 years for construction to start on a new hospital;
(2) notes the Government's questionable actions in reclassifying Tumut Hospital from "average" to "good";
(3) condemns the Government and the Minister for Health for leading Tumut residents to believe a decision would be made by 2006 and the new hospital completed by 2012; and
(4) condemns the Government for neglecting to provide proper services for regional areas.
I will give a précis of the history of the Tumut community and surrounding areas and their wish to redevelop their hospital. In 1999 a public meeting was held to plan for a Tumut Hospital at which a hospital planning committee was formed. In 2003 the planning committee was told by Capital Works Manager and Acting Managing Policy and Planning for the Greater Murray Area Health Service, Karen McPeake, that "Tumut is on a Forward Works Program to be built after the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital". In 2004 the committee met with the Deputy Administrator of the Greater Murray Area Heath Service, Dr Joe McGirr. Submissions were made to the rural advisor for the Minister for Health calling for funding for a procurement feasibility study.
This is said to be the first step to have a new hospital by 2007. Tumut was still on the Forward Works Program. The replacement of the hospital and sign-off was expected in two to five years, that is, 2005-08. On 22 September 2005 the Greater Southern Area Health Service held public meeting number one. It was reported in the Tumut and Adelong Times
that Tumut Hospital was no longer on the Forward Works Program. The Greater Southern Area Health Service Manager of Services and Corporate Planning, Janet Chapmen, said that Tumut Hospital was a high priority next on the list for capital works funding after Wagga Wagga Base Hospital.
In relation to Greater Southern Area Health Service public meeting number two, the Tumut and Adelong Times
reported that the Greater Southern Area Health Service had recommended Tumut Hospital be placed on the NSW Health capital works program with planning to start within three to five years, that is, 2008-10. Residents again were told that Tumut Hospital would follow construction of the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital. The Manager of Services and Corporate Planning, Janet Chapman, said that a facility review of Tumut Hospital was to commence immediately and be completed in six to eight weeks, and a report of the facility review would be with the Greater Southern Area Health Service by March 2006 and made available to a further public meeting in March 2006.
On 13 December 2005 Dr Nigel Lyons said that Tumut Hospital was not up to modern requirements. He said the facility review would be completed by March 2006, the site master plan was to be completed by May 2006 and an asset strategic plan was to be done in the following months. In 2006 he said that the facility review to be reported by March 2006 had not started and the facility review now would be completed by May 2006. In relation to Greater Southern Area Health Service public meeting number three, the Manager of Services and Corporate Planning, Janet Chapman, said the facility review had not started and it was expected the review would be completed by December 2006. The list goes on.
The committee met with Minister Hatzistergos and Minister Della Bosca, handing over information as to the reasons why Tumut should have a new hospital. The committee outlined the growing Tumut economy and referred to the enormous amount of investment in infrastructure, particularly the Visy plan. With all that activity, the committee suggested that Tumut should be a priority. No firm commitment was given to the committee on funding. The No More Bandaid Solutions group wrote a letter dated 1 June 2007 to Heather Gray, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Southern Area Health Service. In a reply dated 7 June 2007 Ms Gray stated:
In response to your letter of June 1, 2007, I am sure you will appreciate that processes change and the Asset Management Process across the state has and is undergoing a process of change. Each Area Health Service is now required to contribute to the State Asset Strategic Plan. Each Area health Service is going through a process of having condition audits undertaken by the Department of Commerce.
This strategic plan is under development at present, with condition audits having been undertaken.
Should funding be allocated for Tumut some time in the future, the standard process would be as follows.
And she outlined the process. I have the audit report in relation to hospital upgrades, and I will refer briefly to some items in that report. In relation to the Tumut Hospital site: parking, below acceptable; paths, below acceptable; roads, below acceptable. In relation to the boiler house: external fabric, below acceptable; roof, below acceptable; structure, below acceptable; finishes, poor condition; fixtures and equipment, average condition. In relation to the staff amenities unit, the report states very poor condition with internal fit outs. In relation to the main building: external fabric, performing to minimum standard; roof, performing to minimum standard. The roof is made of asbestos, which, as all members know, creates problems. The administration unit is listed as: poor condition, average condition, average condition. The emergency unit finishes were assessed to be in poor condition. The report states, "General appearance is poor with eroded protective coatings, elements are broken, with services not performing." And it goes on: average condition, average condition, average condition.
I will lay the report on the table for members' edification. Members would be surprised to see such a report. All the opinions differ from suggestions by the area health service, NSW Health and the Minister that the hospital is in good condition. The staff, doctors and nurses were commended. I commend them too. They work under trying conditions. When we look at all the assessments of the hospitals, we find that Tumut District and Community Hospital is amongst the three lowest of 24 hospitals in relation to performance of the building and its condition. I acknowledge that the hospital rates well in the delivery of service. That is as a result of the dedicated staff I have referred to. On 11 April 2008 an ABC news report stated:
Mike Kelly, the Member for Eden Monaro, says he will not stand for Tumut residents having to wait almost a decade for a new hospital.
To his credit, Mr Kelly arranged for Minister Roxon to visit Tumut. The Tumut and Adelong Times
on Friday 19 September 2008 stated:
The Federal Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon fulfilled her promise by meeting with community members and conducting an inspection of Tumut Hospital on Wednesday.
The Minister said funding for the hospital was ultimately the responsibility of the State Government, but did acknowledge the risks of the century old building, noting potential problems such as Asbestos.
While it was a fly-by visit for the Health Minister, who managed to squeeze a community meeting and a hospital inspection into an hour, she did announce a funding boost for rural and remote health infrastructure.
"The new Rural Infrastructure program will invest in health services in the region, and directly assist communities like Tumut," she said.
The article continues:
Mr Kelly said the visit would give Ms Roxon the ammunition to put Tumut's case before parliament.
In a quick examination of Federal Parliament Hansard
I could not find where Ms Roxon had put the case before the Parliament, nor the member for Eden-Monaro. He had mentioned Tumut Hospital once in a speech in which he basically said if $120 million had not been wasted there would be $40 million for the hospital. By way of motion in this place, which the member for Burrinjuck supports, I have called on the Government to ensure that Tumut Hospital is put on the priority list. I understand that list is kept secret. The hospital redevelopment committee has tried to get access to the list, without success. This is an important motion. It is important for the region. Because of the growth within the Batlow-Tumut-Tumbarumba-Gundagai area and the problems with Wagga Wagga Base Hospital, it is important that the Government commits to the redevelopment of Tumut District Hospital.
Mr FRANK TERENZINI
(Maitland) [12.26 p.m.]: I speak against the motion. All too often the Opposition moves a motion in this House simply to put its whinges and gripes on the record and to call into question our hardworking public servants, particularly those who work in hospitals. The Tumut Health Service provides a comprehensive range of services that meets the needs of the local community. Those services include Tumut District Hospital, which provides emergency care, surgery, obstetric services and medical care, and Tumut Community Health Service, which offers a range of local and visiting community-based services. I am advised that Tumut Health Service continues to serve the local community with 34 beds; emergency, acute and medical care; general surgery; gynaecology and post-surgical care; palliative care; chronic and complex care; medical imaging; physiotherapy; speech therapy; dietician services; Aboriginal health and women's health; and a broad range of community health services.
I am further advised that there are no critical safety issues at Tumut Health Service and no shortage of available beds. Service provision at Tumut District Hospital meets the level three role delineation. That is consistent with its role as a district hospital providing surgical and obstetric services. In November 2005 the Tumut Health Service Plan recommended that a facility review be completed and a site master plan be developed to improve safety and efficiency at the site. I am advised that both these recommendations have been completed and in June 2006 works to the value of $250,000 were completed, including security upgrades, improvement to access points across the site, and improvements to hospital bathrooms.
The Greater Southern Area Health Service will continue to work with the local health service advisory council to ensure ongoing service delivery is maintained at Tumut Health Service and also to ensure that consultation with the local community is improved. Last month the general manager for the central sector of the Greater Southern Area Health Service met with representatives from Tumut Shire Council and the local health advisory council to discuss health services in the region. Regular meetings will be held in the future. Most importantly, this is not about bricks and mortar; it is about the safe delivery of patient services.
The New South Wales Government is committed to providing rural and regional communities with the best possible health services. This financial year we are channelling more than $4 billion into health care in rural and regional areas. That is an enormous amount of money and commitment. It is all very well for members opposite to shake their heads, but these are the facts.
Mr Steve Whan:
How many hospitals have they rebuilt?
Mr FRANK TERENZINI:
I am getting to that. The member for Monaro is well acquainted with these issues. I am getting to the issue of the closures of the hospitals that occurred under the Liberal Coalition Government. But getting back to the figures for the Labor Government, there has been an increase of about $270 million from the previous year—more than double the investment just eight years ago. In the greater western and greater southern areas, of which Tumut is a part, we are investing almost $1.2 billion. A range of capital works projects will be undertaken in rural and regional areas this financial year, and we have built or rebuilt virtually every major hospital in the State during our time in government.
Mr Daryl Maguire:
Mr FRANK TERENZINI:
We have. The member for Wagga Wagga knows that; he just does not want to hear it. Not only did the Liberals not build any hospitals; they closed them down. They excel themselves when they get into government. They do not just sit there and watch hospitals crumble; they close them down and be done with them. These works include major hospital redevelopment in 51 rural and regional hospitals. Tumut Health Service is one of 47 hospitals and 62 community health services provided by Greater Southern Area Health Service.
In 2009-10 the Government is investing $607 million in the Greater Southern Area Health Service. The 2009-10 budget represents an increase of $37.8 million on last year's budget. This is hardly a government not committed to health services in rural and regional New South Wales, as the Opposition would have us believe. The Government is fully committed to rural and regional health services, as demonstrated by the range of initiatives we are undertaking to tackle these and other issues.
As we know, workforce shortages are affecting health systems across the country, both in the city and in the bush, and right around the world. Attracting and retaining medical professionals in rural areas, especially in remote communities, is particularly tough. There is no single solution, so we have taken a comprehensive approach. The Government offers a range of incentive packages to support and encourage doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to come and work in the bush and become part of those communities.
Through Caring Together: The Health Action Plan for New South Wales the Government is investing a total of $42 million over four years to increase the supply of skilled doctors to outer metropolitan and rural areas. This will see the creation of 45 extra training places in rural areas for doctors in their second and third year of training and an additional 22 trainee specialist places in outer metropolitan and regional areas. These are all initiatives consistent with a government that is fully committed to health services. Health takes a large proportion of the budget in New South Wales. The Government clearly recognises that initiatives for reform and changes are needed to make sure that we can uphold a high standard of health care services—and the government to do that is the New South Wales Labor Government. I would hate to think where our health services would end up if there were a change of government. We would go back to the days of all the hospitals being closed down around New South Wales and the dreadful experience with Port Macquarie hospital that the Government had to step in and fix up.
Mr Steve Whan:
And none rebuilt.
Mr FRANK TERENZINI:
None of them fixed or rebuilt. It is a bit rich for the Coalition to go on about health services when our health services are all making the grade. We have hardworking clinicians, professionals, doctors, nurses and administrative staff making sure that rural hospitals are all making the grade. For the Opposition to criticise those services and make out that they would be better than this Government in maintaining health services is a little bit rich. Even in the short time I have been in this Parliament it is blatantly obvious to me that for the Opposition political gain and political notoriety take precedence over substance in the provision of services in New South Wales. I strongly oppose this motion.
Ms KATRINA HODGKINSON
(Burrinjuck) [12.35 p.m.]: I make a contribution to the motion moved by the member for Wagga Wagga in relation to Tumut Hospital. It is extraordinary that this country district has been promised a hospital for so many years and it is still waiting for that facility, and will perhaps have to wait another 10 or 15 years for construction to start on a new hospital. I have taken a continuing interest in this situation because Tumut was in the electorate of Burrinjuck up until the redistribution of boundaries following the last general election in 2007. I continue to take an interest because the No More Bandaids group, which the member for Wagga Wagga mentioned during his contribution, was very active during my time as the member for the area.
It is very unfortunate that there has been very little progress made in relation to this very important issue. The Government is only too well aware that Tumut is thriving. It is a growing area that young families, single people and young couples are moving to because of the mill development, all the construction work, the hardwood industry and the softwood plantation industry, particularly the pine plantations in and around the Tumut region. With growing families moving into the area there is a real need for a state-of-the-art hospital, and we have been calling for that from this side of the House for certainly as long as I have been the member for Burrinjuck. I remember raising this issue in 1999. When I entered Parliament I took a very active interest in Tumut and Batlow. The Batlow multipurpose service centre was another issue of great concern at that time.
The No More Bandaids group is obviously still very worried. Sue Swann, the secretary of the organisation, located in Tumut, has been in contact with the Greater Southern Area Health Service since 1999 regarding the need for a new hospital at Tumut. In 2003 I remember very clearly that Karen McPeake, the capital works manager and acting manager of policy and planning, told our community that Tumut had been placed on the forward works program. In 2004 the Deputy Administrator of Greater Murray Health Service, Joe McGirr, made a submission to the health Minister's rural adviser regarding a procurement feasibility plan, which was said to be the first step to having a new hospital by 2007. At that stage Tumut was still on the forward works program and sign off for a new hospital was expected to be within two to five years, which was then 2005 to 2008.
In September 2005 the manager of services and corporate planning of Greater Southern Area Health, Janet Chapman, announced that Tumut had been removed from the forward works program, but she assured us that Tumut Hospital was a high priority and next on the list after Wagga Wagga Base Hospital for capital works funding. Two weeks before the general election the then Premier, Morris Iemma, spoke about new multipurpose service centres and new hospitals. Talk has been going on for so long in relation to Tumut Hospital that the people of the district are starting to wonder whether it will ever happen.
It is appalling that Tumut Hospital has once again slipped down the list—in fact, it is not clear where it is on the list. I inspected the hospital shortly before the election, when I was still the local member, and there were holes in the floor and asbestos in the roof. The building was in appalling shape. I know some of the nurses who work at the hospital—indeed, I am proud to call them friends—and they should not be subjected to those conditions. The time has come for a new hospital to be built in Tumut and the Government must urgently allocate the appropriate funds so that residents from the Burrinjuck and Wagga Wagga electorates can access a good hospital in the area.
Mr RICHARD AMERY
(Mount Druitt) [12.40 p.m.]: I join the member for Maitland in opposing this motion. I am not opposing it simply because members opposite have raised the need for facilities in their electorates; that is honourable and appropriate. I question the tactic of tacking onto this motion about Tumut Hospital, and perhaps hurrying the Government along, statements condemning the Government and the Minister for Health "for leading Tumut residents to believe" and so on, and "for neglecting to provide proper services for regional areas". That would be comical if we were not addressing the serious issue of rural health services.
We should all acknowledge the health service challenges facing people living in rural areas. Those of us who live in western Sydney have access to many hospitals. However, rural residents face a number of inherent problems such as the distance they must travel to hospitals, towns and large facilities. They must also allow for the limited number of doctors who are interested in working in regional areas and, of those who are, the number who are prepared to bulk bill. As a result many regional patients pay much more than people living in metropolitan areas.
Both Federal and State governments must address those challenges. Members opposite blame the State Government for that situation. This Government has the best record in Australia for building health facilities. There are obviously delays in any project. When explaining the situation in response to many questions on this issue over the past few years Ministers have invariably mentioned John Howard. Members opposite should think about him for a moment. During their contributions they did not once mention the impact of his policies. They came into this place every day and said that the Federal Coalition Government had increased health funding; however, they hid the fact that the Howard Government's increased funding to the States was based on the normal consumer price index increases, not the health price increases.
As a result, the Howard Government's health allocations to the States declined from about 45 per cent or 46 per cent to about 40 per cent. It is great to see that the Rudd Government is restoring that allocation—hopefully to 46 per cent or even more in the future. The impact of that erosion of Federal money over the years means that State governments must keep reprioritising and increasing their contributions. Only in recent years our health budget has grown from $10 billion to more than $15 billion.
Members opposite have a terrible track record on regional health care, but they come into this place and ask why the construction of the Tumut Hospital has been delayed. We would all like a hospital to be built at Tumut and for the Wagga Wagga hospital redevelopment to be expedited—and that is happening. The Parliamentary Secretary said that he cannot think of one rural hospital, other than the Port Macquarie hospital, that was built by a Coalition government. Of course, that hospital had to be paid for by the Government three times. That is the Coalition's regional health record. If members want to know what would happen if a Coalition government were elected in this State they should look at what happened in 1988. Nick Greiner established the Curran review and health, education and virtually all capital works budgets were slashed. The same thing would happen given the Max Moore-Wilton strategies that the Opposition is concocting now.
Documents provided by the Minister's office point out that the Tumut health service plan recommended that a facility review be completed and that a site master plan be developed to improve safety and efficiency. I am advised that both recommendations have been addressed and that in June 2006 works to the value of $250,000 were completed. The Greater Southern Area Health Service will continue to work with the local health service advisory council to keep the Tumut community informed and to ensure that ongoing service delivery is maintained. Underscoring the Government's commitment to rural and regional health services, a number of other major capital works projects have been completed or are underway throughout country New South Wales, including in the area covered by the Greater Southern Area Health Service. Of course, these include the nearby Wagga Wagga Base Hospital, which is in the electorate of the member who moved the motion. This is an incredible and inappropriate motion that is based on many falsehoods, and I totally reject it.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE (Wagga Wagga) [12.45 p.m.], in reply: I thank the members representing the electorates of Maitland, Burrinjuck and Mount Druitt for their contributions. I also thank the member for Maitland and the member for Mount Druitt for reading onto the record the Department of Health response to this motion. Many of the 50-odd hospitals that members referred to being built were completed in partnership with the previous Federal Government. Much of the funding was provided by the Federal Government and they were constructed in partnership with the State Government. The hospitals on the drawing board are also being provided in partnership with the Federal Government.
I have been a party to the workforce strategies solution. However, the problem is that no-one wants to work in this Government's hospital system. There are 100,000 nurses registered in New South Wales, but only about 30,000 work in the State system. When the Greiner Government came to power it inherited a $20-billion debt and it had to make many difficult decisions. The same will happen in 2011 when the Coalition takes office. However, this time I am advised that we will inherit a $60-billion debt.
The Tumut community has been campaigning for the establishment of a renal unit at the local hospital because local patients must travel to Wagga Wagga Base Hospital for treatment. That hospital has had to triple its services, which are provided at an old building that was not designed for the procedures involved. The redevelopment of Wagga Wagga Base Hospital has been a 25-year project. Again, no commitment has been made to complete that project. Capital works on the most important hospital in the southern region have been repeatedly delayed. Many patients come from far and wide to access its services. Members opposite talk about recruitment, retention and workforce issues. Without the appropriate infrastructure to support the staff, the problems will continue.
The member for Mount Druitt was quick to condemn John Howard. Kevin Rudd promised before the last election that he would take over the provision of health services if the States did not perform. A report was released last week indicating that the States had not met their obligations. Did he take over? No, he did not; he again ducked the issue. Members referred to an article in the Tumut-Adelong Times
about Minister Roxon's announcement on funding. She stated:
The new Rural Infrastructure program will invest in health services in the region, and directly assist communities like Tumut. The grant's conditions would mean that investments in facilities like Sheahan House—
which is part of the Tumut hospital—
would be applicable for the grant, which has an upper limit of half a million dollars.
Did it get any money? No, it did not. Did anyone mention that in Federal Parliament? A précis of Federal Hansard
contains a couple of mentions of Tumut Hospital. That is all there is. So much for glib promises! Government members can talk about investment in health, but waiting lists continue to be at record levels. Tomaree hospital was mentioned yesterday by the member for Port Stephens. Such hospitals are continually transporting patients to larger centres. That also happens at Tumut. Indeed, Batlow hospital, in partnership with the State and Federal governments, had a new multipurpose service built. What did the area health service do? It downgraded it. It downgraded all the positions. It has now become basically a bandaid station without basic equipment such as an X-ray machine to allow doctors to do basic procedures—equipment we have argued should have been in that new hospital.
This means that the load is then transferred to Tumut. We have a network of ambulances sitting at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital with ambulance block almost daily—six to eight ambulances locked up there unable to do their job because the base hospital is full because this mob opposite has not redeveloped it. Because the Government has not reinvested in the Tumut hospital we should be a priority. As for no more bandaids, Government members should know that some members of the No More Bandaids committee—Labor Party members—have held positions in the party. They are strong in their views and have been passionate advocates for a new hospital.
Question—That the motion be agreed to—put.
The House divided.
Mr J. H. Turner
Mr R. W. Turner
Mr J. D. Williams
Mr R. C. Williams
Question resolved in the negative.
|Mr O'Dea||Ms Hornery|
|Mr O'Farrell||Ms Judge|
|Mr Page||Mr Khoshaba|
|Mr Piccoli||Mrs Paluzzano|