There has been strong support for NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord’s call on Friday for an independent external inquiry into the Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD).
“Murrumbidgee Local Health District lurches from crisis to crisis… what you have in the Riverina would never be tolerated in Sydney,” Mr Secord said.
Mr Secord wants the finances and decision-making processes of the embattled MLHD investigated after “community outcry over a number of decisions to slash services in the region”.
He said there were also concerns about budget black-holes; cost over-runs and cuts to smaller hospital services within the local health district.
But NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard continues to back his MLHD bureaucrats.
“I have seen the assertion by a Labor member of Parliament about an alleged budget black hole. I have checked with the Murrumbidgee Local Health District and I am told the claims are rubbish”.
Robert Borsak, Shooters Fishers and Farmers MLC, says the Minister should stand down.
"He's never responsible for bad decisions… if there's a good announcement, he'll announce it. But if it's bad, he'll say the bureaucrats withheld it from me".
“If the Minister’s claim that he knew nothing about these cuts is true, then why and how can a public servant unilaterally close a vital rural health service?”
Save Griffith Base Hospital committee president Jenna Woodland strongly backed the inquiry call.
“It’s a shame our local member Adrian Piccoli has been in hiding all week, we desperately need local representation to ensure this inquiry happens”.
Member for Murray Adrian Piccoli did not respond to a question on whether he supported calls for an MLHD inquiry before our deadline.
Griffith mayor John Dal Broi said, “I’d rather not get political at this stage”.
“I’m working behind scene with the Minister and our local member to get the clinical services plan and master plan done so it can go out for community consultation early next year”.
Mr Borsak wants an inquiry.
“Given the conga line of issues we’ve seen in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District I agree that it warrants a public inquiry. People deserve answers.”
“The Temora Hospital cuts came soon after the back-flip on cuts to the pathology department at Griffith Hospital, so it looks like it’s the same cut-back shoved elsewhere.”
The MLHD also face allegations of a $20 million black hole at Wagga hospital, due to expensive unused angiography equipment. They have denied these allegations.
Wagga councillor Dan Hayes said, “this is not the first time we've heard of expensive equipment not being used".
Last year, The Daily Advertiser reported on allegations a multi-million dollar MRI machine was also lying dormant.
“The level of transparency around Wagga hospital has been very poor. This information needs to be made public," Mr Hayes said.
Griffith Base Hospital has recently faced downgrades to radiology, sterilisation and pathology services.
Two weeks ago, doctors at Temora hospital were told their obstetric theatre would be shut down.
All decisions were made by health bureaucrats who did not tell government or local doctors.
After a public outcry, the Griffith pathology and Temora decisions were reversed.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard recently rejected calls from MLHD managers to be sacked.
The Area News Questions to MLHD
Does the new Wagga Hospital have world class angiography theatres and equipment built at a cost of $ 10 million?
Are they lying unused (for the purpose they were built) for the last 19 months?
Is the equipment out of company warranty?
Is annual service and maintenance fee being paid after company warranty expired, even when machines have never been used. How much is this fee?
How do you know that the machines work correctly, if they have not been used at all?
Why have the machines not been used for the past 19 months?
How many patients were sent to a private facility for tests and procedures which could be done using own facilities since the new hospital opened?
How much was the bill in the last 19 months for sending these patients across to private?
Is this why small rural facilities are being downgraded and shut, to cover this wastage?
How many staff have been recruited for these facilities which lie unused? What have they been doing? How do they fill their day?
When were these staff recruited?
What is the annual salary of these staff?
MLHD full response:
Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital is a campus undergoing continual change as part of its redevelopment, with state-of-the-art facilities built and implemented for the future.
As part of this future-planning, Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital has commenced a staged introduction of interventionist radiology services, including new Angiography services.
Staff have already commenced training for the new service, under the care of experienced clinicians who are also overseeing the service implementation.
While this service is being set up, the existing Angiography services will continued unchanged. The equipment has had regular required checks until its planned commissioning this year
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