O'Farrell Government counting chairs as hospital beds

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Health Minister Jillian Skinner has been caught out labelling chairs as hospital beds in order to artificially inflate the number of hospital beds in NSW, during a budget estimates hearing today.

"The O'Farrell Government is widening the definition of a hospital bed to manufacture an extra 2,009 hospital beds in the NSW health system," Shadow Health Minister, Dr Andrew McDonald said.

"The Health Minister has widened the definition of a hospital bed so a chair is now counted as a bed in NSW hospitals.

"When initially asked during the budget estimates hearing today, Ms Skinner said a transit lounge was not a hospital bed.

"Only ten minutes later, Ms Skinner claimed she had not told the estimates hearing a transit lounge was not a hospital bed.

"But, in her March 2012 statement on hospital beds, Ms Skinner confirmed transit lounges are indeed being counted as hospital beds under her government.

"The O'Farrell Government clearly has no intention of delivering the extra hospital beds and capacity our health system desperately needs – they are going to play semantics with the definition of a hospital bed instead."

Jillian Skinner on the record in budget estimates today:

"A chair is a treatment space."

"The total number [of beds] includes treatment spaces."

"A transit lounge is a treatment space where a patient can be treated, it’s the equivalent of a bed."

Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, Luke Foley said: "Under Ms Skinner's count, if my wife goes into hospital to have a baby, the chair she sits in while her contractions quicken will be counted as a bed, the delivery suite is counted as a bed, the recovery room is a bed, the bed she is then confined to is a bed, and the bassinet the baby is put into is a bed."

"One woman can deliver one baby in a NSW hospital, and Jillian Skinner will deliver five beds.

"This is a disgraceful redefinition of hospital beds so the Minister can falsely claim there are more beds in the NSW hospital system."