The opposition has taken a swing at the state government’s handling of rural health, using Lismore Hospital as a base from which to launch its ‘Schools and Hospitals before Stadiums’ campaign.
Labor leader Luke Foley and Northern NSW Shadow Minister Walt Secord were in Lismore this morning (March 19) to highlight the hospital’s deficiencies a year out from the state election.
The pair demanded the Berejiklian government ‘explain and justify why they are spending $2.7 billion on new stadiums in Sydney – while rural, regional and coastal families get a second-class health and hospital system.’
While Lismore Base Hospital is the subject of an upgrade, they say the hospital is unable to meet the growing demand in the region and it has the longest waits in emergency department for a rural and regional hospital.
In the most recent independent Bureau of Health Information data for the October to December 2017 quarterly reporting period released on March 14, Lismore Base Hospital had the longest waits in emergency department – outside Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle.
Mr Foley said the hospital was ‘at breaking point’, adding ‘patients are suffering’.
“The Berejiklian Government has the wrong priorities. They are spending billions on stadiums but letting down country families wanting first class health and hospital services.
“Sadly, patients wait at every stage in NSW; they wait for an ambulance; they wait in an emergency department; they wait for a hospital bed; and when they finally get a bed, they are rushed out of the hospital, risking re-admission due to infection.”
Mr Secord said the hospital was ‘under enormous pressure with the longest waits in emergency departments in the entire state’.
‘Lismore Base Hospital has secured the unfortunate distinction of being the most under pressure hospital in regional NSW,’ he added.
According to the Bureau of Health Information, the elective surgery waiting list at Lismore Hospital has increased by 18 per cent in the past year.
The number of patients waiting for a hip replacement has increased by 54 per cent over the same period.
Currently, there are five patients awaiting surgery at Lismore Base Hospital who have been waiting for more than a year.
The median wait time at Lismore Base Hospital for non-urgent elective surgery was 326 days with 329 days for cataract removal, 329 days for total hip replacement and 335 days for total knee replacement surgery.
The pair say these waits are well above the state average.