Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital

About this Item
SpeakersAshton Mr Alan
BusinessPrivate Members Statements, PRIV

Page: 26191

Mr ALAN ASHTON (East Hills) [1.36 p.m.]: Today I talk about some new resources approved for Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital that I know are appreciated by the member for Bankstown, the Parliamentary Secretary at the table. Patients at Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital will benefit from more than $1.2 million in funding for new medical equipment following the historic health and hospitals reform agreement between the State and Commonwealth governments. On 7 October 2010 the member for Bankstown, Tony Stewart; Daryl Melham; the Minister for Health, Carmel Tebbutt; and I attended the hospital to meet with nurses, medical practitioners such as Professor Neil Merrett and others to view the new equipment.

As a result of the funding boost the hospital's emergency department will receive more than $350,000 in essential equipment, including heart monitoring equipment, a defibrillator and an ECG machine to record patients' heart activity. The hospital's operating theatres will also benefit from funding of more than $920,000 for internal camera equipment for endoscopy procedures and an extra recovery bed. South-western Sydney is one of the fastest-growing areas in the State and this new equipment will assist the hospital to meet the healthcare needs of the local community. This is a fight that the member for Bankstown and I have taken up in our time in this place.

From July 2009 to June 2010 the hospital's emergency department saw 43,224 patients and 9,467 operations were performed. I specifically mention those figures because it is always easy to grab a cheap headline when something minor goes wrong, although I concede there are sometimes major occurrences, but with 43,000-plus patients going through the emergency department the outcome is almost invariably successful. I know this because two days before our recent visit to the hospital to view the new equipment my wife was bitten by a spider when she was cleaning up public parks as part of her community involvement. We raced off to the hospital and were given the good news that the spider was not poisonous. We arrived at the emergency department in the middle of the day. My wife was given a tetanus injection and everybody is safe, including the spider.

This funding boost is important because we now have a better agreement than previously. Hansard and members would have heard enough about the cutbacks that occurred in the funding mix of State hospitals under the former Howard Government. In the last year of the Howard Government New South Wales provided 59 per cent of hospital funding and the Howard Government provided only 41 per cent. Yet it was supposed to be a fifty-fifty agreement. This historic health reform will provide $1.2 billion for State health services over the next four years. The new resources will significantly enhance Bankstown hospital's ability to meet increasing demand from a growing ageing local population.

I refer briefly to another visit I made to the hospital a couple of days earlier to meet nurses who are pressing a claim in 2010-11 for improved staffing ratios and a better skill mix for staff-patient care. Nurses have visited me in my electorate office and I know they will be visiting other members as well. I am quite happy to endorse their campaign to mandate nursing numbers. Everyone would concede that a nurse's job is not getting any easier. It is being made more difficult as a result of some people staying longer in hospital. The elderly and sick cannot be released when there are no places in the community for them. Often they stay in hospital longer than they should. The union is trying to get a mandated minimum nurse-patient ratio. This will potentially have a great impact on the State budget but this matter is important because nurses are critical to the health system. We have done as much as we can to keep nurses in the State system but after we train them they often get taken up by the private health system or find other places to work. Only by improving their numbers can we maintain the service provided by the first people patients need to see—nurses.