Your cutbacks Barry, not ours, say federal MPs

Premier Barry O’Farrell has claimed hospital beds at Westmead and Blacktown hospitals are in jeopardy because the federal government has not renewed funding.

But federal MPs in western Sydney said the Premier was misleading people to cover his government’s $3 billion cut to the health budget. 

Mr O’Farrell said thousands of patients in NSW would miss out on palliative and acute care, emergency services and rehabilitation if the federal government did not renew National Partnership Agreements.

Funding agreements worth $459 million are due to expire in June next year.

And other contracts between the governments worth $352 million will expire the following year.

‘‘Without these funds beds will close,’’ Mr O’Farrell said.

‘‘If they aren’t continued it will have a devastating impact on hospitals and schools.

‘‘We need to know if this funding gap needs to be filled.’’

The National Partnership Agreements are contracts between the states and the federal government to provide funding for specific purposes, such as increased hospital surgery, reduced waiting times in emergency departments and preschool places.

Federal members for western Sydney electorates said the agreements had been superseded by new policies that actually increased funding. 

Federal Parramatta MP Julie Owens said Mr O’Farrell was well aware that funding for hospitals and schools was locked in until 2017. 

‘‘The national health reform agreement between the state and federal governments included massive increases in federal grants,’’ she said. 

‘‘We’ve always expected these health funding agreements would be replaced and superseded by new contracts worth squillions of dollars more and the Premier has signed off on it.’’ 

Greenway MP Michelle Rowland said Mr O’Farrell was playing politics to hide his own funding cuts.

“It is very disappointing that Barry O’Farrell would stoop to this level,’’ she said.

‘‘These are the facts.

‘‘Barry O’Farrell is slashing health services by $3 billion. 

‘‘The federal government is pouring $20 billion into better health services in NSW.

‘‘The federal government has already guaranteed health funding – in an agreement personally signed by Barry O’Farrell.’’

Chifley MP Ed Husic blamed the state government’s infrastructure spending for its budget cuts in health and education.

‘‘Mr O’Farrell is ripping funding out of the health and education budgets in NSW so he can pay for the North West Rail Line,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a bit rich to hear him spreading mistruths and trying to lecture the federal government on funding for schools and hospitals.”

A spokesman for Mr O’Farrell denied that the National Partnership Agreements were linked to the new federal health reforms.

The spokesman said services at risk included:

- Places for 12,000 patients per year in community and hospital-based palliative care and rehabilitation services;

-195 acute care beds across 23 hospitals for additional elective surgery, including 14 beds and one intensive care bed at Westmead, 11 beds at Gosford, 14 beds and two high-dependency beds at Liverpool;

- Up to 161 acute beds across 26 hospitals to reduce emergency waiting times, including 19 emergency department beds at Wollongong, five beds at Bathurst and 12 emergency department beds at Blacktown; and,

- Around 20,000 preschool places.

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