AN irate NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has taken aim at Labor, following the party’s announcement last week that it would invest $98.4 million to deliver Stage 3 of the Muswellbrook District Hospital.
The Opposition leader, Michael Daley, accompanied by Country Labor candidate for Upper Hunter Melanie Dagg, made the substantial commitment during a visit to the region on Thursday – on the proviso they prevail at the state election on March 23.
The pair also pledged $2.7 million for a cancer treatment day unit, which will include three chemotherapy chairs at Singleton Hospital.
Mr Daley said the [Muswellbrook] funding would deliver a full hospital upgrade to ensure patients can be treated in their own community –without having to travel to Newcastle.
But, Mr Hazzard fired back, stating Labor was unable to fund and run a state-wide hospital system, and making promises without getting expert advice from local health districts, doctors, nurses and administrators.
“Labor has not spoken to the Hunter New England Local Health District about Muswellbrook hospital, which is already being developed under a masterplan,” he said.
“We know they haven’t spoken to them because many of the features they’re promising are already being delivered in the $21 million Stage 2 rebuild.
“Labor has guaranteed staff accommodation – that was delivered in 2012-13.
“They also promised Telehealth consulting rooms, enhanced imaging and diagnostics and an upgrade to emergency power supply.
“These are all being delivered now in Stage 2, which will be completed this year.”
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said Labor was risky and reckless and incapable of doing basic fact checking.
“Stage 2 of the redevelopment of Muswellbrook hospital is also delivering larger treatment spaces and additional treatment chairs for renal dialysis and chemotherapy, improved spaces for medical imaging and pathology collection, refurbished outpatient areas, oral health services, enhanced space for patients attending day surgery, improvements to the main entry, reception and admission areas,” he explained.
“This builds on the $6.5 million Stage 1 redevelopment of the new emergency department in 2015.
“And, Stage 3 for Muswellbrook hospital will be progressed under the masterplan.
“Unlike Labor, the NSW Government will take advice and talk to the experts when it comes to planning for hospitals and communities’ future health needs.
“When last in government, Labor closed 37 maternity units in the bush and promised to upgrade at least four regional hospitals but failed to deliver.”