A Sorry State of Greater Western Area Health Service

28 Jan

According to a latest Sydney Morning Herald report, a spokesperson for the Premier of NSW, Nathan Rees, said he was too busy with other issues when asked to comment on the sorry state of Greater Western Area Health Service (GWAHS).

The SMH ran a series of articles recently highlighting the financial problems these hospitals are facing.

As early as last August, the Dubbo Medical council expressed concerns on,’unpaid bills, affecting the standard of patient care, nurses borrowing supplies from local veterinary clinics, and doctors paying for supplies and services out of their own pocket’. Meat supplies are cut off after the hospital owed its provider, Dubbo Meat company, approximately $30,000. Nurses resort to paying for patient’s food using petty cash.

At Mudgee hospital, nurses in the emergency department had to purchase blood glucose strips and alcohol testing kits from a pharmacy.  According to Health Minister, John Della Bosca, GWAHS, is currently in a heavy debt of 23 million, a smaller figure of 60 million when he took over from the position about four months ago.

While these stories are unravelling, the government is letting go of approximately 130 nurses in the GWAHS – 27 positions at Dubbo Base Hospital, 34 positions at Bathurst and 37 positions at Orange, according to the NSW Nurses Association.

The union has argued that the current crisis is a result of the previous Federal government’s decision to  reduce federal funding for public hospitals from 50 to 45%, leaving the extra burden to the current State government. It has also voiced concerns that such a move to axe staff will ‘breach workload award provisions’, thereby threatening the level of healthcare that will be provided.

In the Greater Southern Area Health Service (GSAHS), an MP, Andrew Constance and hospital nurse, Janice Dubav have complained that there are too many managers and not enough nurses. The former argued that the NSW government needs to reform its health system by increasing and improving front-line delivery service instead of bloating the bureaucracy.

In light of the news reports, questions need to be asked on how GWAHS has incurred such hugh debts, as the situation spiralled out of control. As stories of miscarriage such as the personal tales of Jodie Whiteside become publicized, the NSW government should also focus on providing more resources in managing the frontline of healthcare, rather than retrenching nurses.

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