LABOR has pledged $32 million to redevelop Muswellbrook Hospital if it forms the next state government.
NSW Opposition Leader Jodi McKay joined the party's Upper Hunter byelection candidate Jeff Drayton as well as Shadow Health Minister Ryan Park. on the hustings at the Brentwood Street hospital to make the pledge.
Mr Drayton said the redevelopment to date had been "completely stuffed up" under the existing government.
If Labor forms government, the announcement includes promise of a new general ward on the lower ground floor, an operating theatre connected to the existing surgical ward, maternity services and central sterilising. Ms McKay said the hospital having a surgical ward but no accompanying operating theatre was proof more was required.
"The residents of Upper Hunter deserve access to world-class healthcare in their community," she said.
Separately, Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery has called for better staffing at the John Hunter Hospital. The Labor MP said staff and paramedics had told her that six beds, four in emergency and two resuscitation beds, were inactive because of staff levels.
"The presentations to the emergency department continue to grow and despite recent expansions opened by the government, beds remain closed and unused due to a lack of staff," Ms Hornery said. "Staff are being stretched to breaking point and are working harder than ever, but the promised increased staff numbers are nowhere to be seen."
The Newcastle Herald reported last week that hospital staff had made a submission to an inquiry flagging long wait times and staff shortages.
Hunter New England Health on Monday evening said additional treatment spaces would be available "in the near future" after internal refurbishments.
"As part of this expansion, we have also invested additional funding for clinical staff and are currently recruiting to these positions," a spokesman said.
The health district's budget for the year to June 30 2020 was $2.4 billion, up $72 million on the year before.
"Between mid-2012 and mid-2020 the Hunter New England Local Health District increased its workforce by an additional 1237 full time equivalent staff - an increase of 11.8 per cent including 336 more doctors, 668 more nurses and midwives, and 146 more allied health staff," the spokesman said.
"Due for completion in 2026, the $780 million John Hunter Health and Innovation Precinct will deliver enhanced health facilities and additional capacity to serve the future health needs of the greater Newcastle, Hunter New England and northern NSW regions."
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