Doctors and frontline health staff face the axe – Despite longest surgery waiting list in NSW history

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Premier Barry O’Farrell has told a budget estimates hearing that doctors and frontline health staff will not be exempt from his government’s unprecedented cuts to health funding – at the same time surgery waiting lists are reaching record highs.

When challenged by the NSW Labor Opposition in budget estimates, Barry O’Farrell refused to exempt doctors and frontline health workers from his government’s labour expense cap.

"Despite overseeing the longest surgical waiting list in NSW history, Barry O’Farrell has confirmed doctors could face the axe under his $3 billion cut to hospitals," Shadow Minister for Health, Dr Andrew McDonald said today.

"There are currently more than 71,509 people waiting for surgery in NSW hospitals under the O'Farrell Government – the longest surgical waiting list in the State's history.

"At Liverpool Hospital, the surgical waiting list rose by 10.7 per cent in the first year of the O'Farrell Government, with 2,358 people now waiting for surgery.

"At Campbelltown - Camden Hospital, the surgical waiting list jumped by a huge 28.2 per cent in the first year of the O'Farrell Government, with 2,316 people waiting for surgery.

"The Health Minister Jillian Skinner also confirmed in budget estimates that Nurse Unit Managers, Clinical Nurse Consultants and Clinical Nurse Educators could all lose their jobs – despite declaring previously that nurses would be exempt from the cuts.

"Our hospitals can't perform surgery if the O'Farrell Government is cutting doctors and sacking other frontline health workers.

"These cuts will only put more pressure on the NSW health system, which is already stretched to the limit."

Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, Luke Foley said: "When I challenged Mr O’Farrell to exempt doctors and frontline health workers from his cuts today, he refused."

"Cutting doctors and nurses in our hospitals will see waiting lists blow out even further and force patients to make do without the nursing support they need."

*Source – Current Waiting Times and Waiting Times Register by Speciality for NSW Hospitals, March 2012