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it's time for NSW to take responsibility for its own health budget - Wooldridge

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Australia's Commonwealth Media Release - Dr Wooldridge wysiwyg://202/

Media Release Dr Michael Wooldridge

MW 99/97 10 September, 1997


Federal Minister for Health and Family Services, Dr Michael Wooldridge, said today it was time the NSW Government faced up to the mess it had made o f its health budget by trying to artificially rig hospital waiting lists to meet a cynical election ploy.

Dr Wooldridge said the NSW Health Minister had attempted to blame the Federal Government for his own mismanagement o f his health budget since he had come into office and it was time to own up to his responsibilities.

"For Dr Refshauge to blame the Federal Government for redundancies at Westmead Hospital is scurrilous. I fail to understand how we can be responsible for personnel management in a state-run public hospital.

"Andrew Refshauge consistently cries poor over hospital funding, yet unlike the NSW Government, we have consistently increased the funding for that state's hospital system," he said.

"Over the six years between 1990-91 and 1994-95 we increased funding to NSW for hospitals by almost $350 million, or 16 per cent in real terms. Last year the Federal Government provided $1.5 billion for NSW hospitals and this year increased that funding to $1.59 billion.

"These figures don't take into account the money siphoned off by NSW through inappropriately privatising outpatients, services that should be provided free by state hospitals under Medicare. Nor do they take into account the money paid out by the Federal Government because NSW hospitals only give patients two to three days worth o f medication on discharge, so they are forced to visit their GPs to get the full course o f tablets.

"If NSW hospitals are under pressure it's because for four years, successive governments in that state have siphoned millions o f dollars out o f their health budget.

"I am pleased to see the NSW Government has begun to reverse this trend, putting more funding into its hospital system but it still falls short o f the increases in Federal Government funding.

"For too long Andrew Refshauge has preferred to play politics with waiting lists rather than take responsibility for patient care," Dr Wooldridge said.

Media Contact: Bill Royce, Dr Wooldridge's office (06) 277 7220

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