Shadow assistant minister for health Stephen Jones was in Nowra on Tuesday, calling on Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis to “do her job” and lobby for Shoalhaven Hospital.
“I’m here on the first day of the Abbott government’s cuts to hospital funding,” Mr Jones said.
“From Helensburgh down to the border, close to $90 million has been ripped out of the hospital system.
“We are already seeing long queues for elective surgery. We’ve had ridiculous stories where people are waiting months and months just for a colonoscopy their doctor has ordered.”
Mr Jones said local members should start doing their job representing the local area.
“We need the local member to make a noise. It’s not good enough to say one thing in your electorate and another thing in Canberra,” he said.
“Tony Abbott needs to be hearing from Ann Sudmalis about what’s going on here.”
Mr Jones said hospitals all over regional Australia were struggling with demand.
“People are saying it’s already hard to see a doctor, bulk billing is almost non-existent for many services. These cuts will make it worse.
“We’re a wealthy country, we don’t need to go down that direction,” he said.
Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis dismissed talk of budget cuts as nothing more than inaccurate scaremongering.
“We know in the federal budget there are increases of nine per cent each year until the fourth year and then I think it’s six per cent.
“I don’t know how you get cuts from that, they are increases.
“It might not be the same expenditure that Labor said they were going to spend but we are increasing our expenditure.
“For people to go around scaremongering is unfair to the public and untrue,” Mrs Sudmalis said.
Labor candidate for Kiama Glenn Kolomeitz said he was sick of hearing funding and extra staff announcements that were yet to become anything more than words.
“Member for Kiama Gareth Ward announced funding to recruit a gastroenterologist in Shoalhaven which is a critical requirement,” Mr Kolomeitz said.
“It’s not good enough. They’ve been telling us they’re recruiting specialists here for years but we’re not seeing specialists here in Shoalhaven.
“We need action not words,” Mr Kolomeitz said.
Kiama MP Gareth Ward accused Labor of misleading the community on state health funding.
“Labor neglected the health needs of our region for almost two decades,” Mr Ward said.
“In stark contrast the NSW government is delivering upgraded facilities and enhanced patient care.
“You only need look at construction work at hospital sites around the region to see our commitment is real.”