At a community forum hosted by the Manning Great Lakes Community Health Action Group, NSW shadow health minister, Walt Secord launched a scathing attack on NSW Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead for “allowing the downgrading of facilities and services at Manning Hospital”.
Mr Secold told the group that Mr Bromhead was failing in his duties as a parliamentarian and should be pounding on the door of the NSW health minister Brad Hazzard to immediately improve services at Manning Hospital.
Mr Bromhead was invited to to the forum but could not attend as he had previously accepted an invitation from the Tinonee Rural Fire Service.
In response to the meeting, Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead said on Thursday August 24 he was “really disappointed” that the meeting appeared to be a front for a Labor Party committee.
“To have Walt Secord come here scaremongering the community for political gain is an absolute disgrace,” Mr Bromhead said.
He added that as Dr Keegan is a member of Country Labor, this was clearly a party political meeting, and the only reason Mr Secord was here was because he was invited by Dr Keegan.
Community member after community member spoke about having to travel to Sydney, Newcastle or Port Macquarie for essential health and hospital services.
To have Walt Secord come here scaremongering the community for political gain is an absolute disgrace.Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead
Mr Secord said that since April 2011, there has been a significant reduction in services at Manning Hospital including cardiology, oncology and ear, nose and throat services.
He pointed to the “explosion” in elective surgery patients at Manning Base Hospital and its over-worked emergency department – saying the upgrade was long overdue.
Mr Bromhead countered that claim by saying since 2011 the State government had enhanced services at Manning Hospital, including intensive care, renal dialysis, orthopaedics, appointment of more midwives and, for the first time, an oncologist.
Mr Bromhead said that Manning Hospital was meeting or exceeding its key performance indicators, and talked of the $20 million for Stage One of the Manning Hospital redevelopment. He said he has been meeting with the NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard, as he had been with the former minister, about stages two and three of the redevelopment.
Mr Secord said he was disappointed that the Nationals “brag” about a $4.5 billion surplus, but they were not honouring promises to upgrade rural and regional hospitals and wasted billions by mismanaging projects.
On February 27, 2015, the then-NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner and Mr Bromhead promised $20 million to begin the upgrade. However, Mr Secord said, the June 2017 State Budget papers revealed that only $9.8 million had been allocated and that the project was scheduled for completion in 2020. It also admitted that only $5.89 million had been spent so far, Mr Secord said.
Mr Secord questioned official correspondence from the Health Minister Brad Hazzard – dated August 11, 2017 – where he claimed that Manning Base was a “high performing hospital”, despite independent data from the State government itself showing that the hospital under enormous pressure.
Mr Secord congratulated the Manning Great Lakes Community Health Action Group for their efforts, particularly, Mr Alan Tickle and Dr David Keegan.