Funding cuts leave newcastle’s calvary mater patients waiting

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The NSW Labor Opposition has condemned the Abbott and Baird Liberal Governments for slashing health funding – and leaving families and patients at Newcastle’s Calvary Mater Hospital with some of the longest waiting periods for life-saving cancer surgery in the country. 

A report released today by the National Health Performance Authority shows that the median waiting time in 2012-13 for malignant bowel cancer surgery at Calvary Mater was 22 days almost double the national waiting time of 12 days.

Sadly, this put Calvary Mater within the bottom seven out of a sample of 86 metropolitan hospitals.

For malignant breast cancer surgery, the median wait at Calvary Mater was 17 days compared with a national waiting time of 12 days. Again, putting Calvary Mater among the longest waits in the country.

As the Commonwealth’s MyHospitals website notes: “These cancers have the ability to progress to more serious disease and spread to surrounding tissue or other organs, if left untreated.”

“The last thing anyone wants to do is wait for surgery when they’re suffering from cancer,” Shadow Minister for Health Walt Secord said today.

“The Abbott and Baird Governments have cut billions from our health system $3 billion from NSW and $1.2 billion from the Commonwealth.

“There are not enough resources finding their way to major Hunter hospitals such as Calvary Mater. When you make cuts to health, you affect people’s lives and you make them wait in pain for longer at great to risk to their condition.”

Shadow Minister for the Hunter Sonia Hornery said the latest report was a tragedy for local cancer patients and proved that the Liberal Party cannot be trusted to resource the Hunter health system. She noted that the Baird Government’s record on health includes:

  • Closing the public eye clinic at John Hunter Hospital for nearly two years;

  • Abolishing the free Hunter health counselling service that used to provide free therapy to 1400

    patients a year at sites including Newcastle, Torono, Cessnock and Nelson Bay;

  • Failing to resource the Hunter ambulance network; resulting in too many patient waits of

between 1-2 hours; and

Unacceptably long wait times for emergency care at John Hunter, Belmont, Calvary Mater and Maitland Hospitals all in breach of the National Emergency Access Target to treat 81% of patients within 4 hours.

“The Liberals have abandoned this region, they are not even running candidates in the by-elections and their record on health is appalling,” Ms Hornery said.

“The doctors and nurses at Calvary Mater do an outstanding job – but they are fighting an uphill battle thanks to the lack of Government resources.”

Labor Candidate for Newcastle Tim Crakanthorp said: “The Abbott and Baird Liberal Governments’ cuts to heath are causing a deterioration at Hunter Hospitals. Only Labor will fight for more funding to bring the waiting times for life-saving cancer surgery under control. It is not pleasing to see people in our community forced to wait.”

Labor Candidate for Charlestown Jodie Harrison added: “In desperate times, we like to think the health system will be there for our parents, children and ourselves. There is nothing more heart-wrenching than receiving a cancer diagnosis.

It is vital that Hunter hospitals are properly resourced to perform timely life-saving surgeries.” 

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