MONA VALE AND FRENCHS FOREST HOSPITALS
Mr BRAD HAZZARD
(Wakehurst) [1.18 p.m.]: I move:
That this House:
(1) calls on the Government to honour its promise to provide six dialysis beds at Mona Vale Hospital; and
(2) calls on the Government to ensure urgent construction of the proposed Frenchs Forest Hospital.
This motion is in two parts. One part relates to six dialysis beds at Mona Vale Hospital; the second part relates to the proposed Frenchs Forest hospital. I address first the six dialysis beds at Mona Vale Hospital. An issue for Coalition members is making sure that our local hospitals are well maintained and receive the essential equipment and staff to ensure that appropriate and necessary medical attention is provided across the State. Over the 14 years of this Labor Government hospital maintenance has diminished and construction has failed. This has put staff under enormous pressure. Unfortunately, that is the sad and sorry history of the New South Wales medical and health systems under State Labor. Who can forget the horror of the facilities, particularly the maternity facilities, at Camden and Campbelltown hospitals?
I note that the member for Macquarie Fields is at the table. Before he came into this place he was objective, critical and contributed in a very balanced way. I respected his position as a paediatrician; he spoke sensibly. Once he became a member of Parliament unfortunately he took on the cloak of the Labor Party and he now sees things from a different perspective. All things are good now, according to him. On this single occasion the member for Pittwater and I are pleased to say that, since the motion was placed on the Notice Paper more than a year ago, the Government—with our encouragement and that of community members—has responded and the six dialysis beds at Mona Vale Hospital are close to being delivered.
It has taken a long time to achieve this outcome but one thing that can be said about Coalition members is that when things get done, we acknowledge it. We do not deny it. We are happy to acknowledge that we are on the cusp of having these six dialysis beds, which are critical for patients on the northern beaches. When people require dialysis their whole body is diminished and they have little energy to do anything. At present patients who need dialysis four or five days a week have to travel from the peninsula to Royal North Shore Hospital or even to hospitals south of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and this is very difficult for them. Local Liberal members and the community have been pushing hard to get some sort of facility on the northern beaches so that local patients who are in a very vulnerable physical state can have their dialysis locally.
Recently the member for Pittwater and I visited the new facility and we were encouraged to find that work has been largely completed. I am advised that next week checks will be made with the builders to ensure that any defect work is attended to—although from my overview of the area the work appeared to be of a high quality. However, in every new building some issues need to be addressed. Nevertheless, today I indicate that the local members of Parliament are pleased to acknowledge that the provision of dialysis beds is imminent. I speak regularly to constituents who are hanging out for this facility to open. If there are delays they may have to do with staffing.
Therefore, on behalf of local Liberal members and, I am sure, the Government, I encourage anybody with medical or nursing experience in dialysis to make themselves known to the Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service because it is currently advertising for staff. We anticipate, and are truly hopeful, that the Government will deliver on its expectation to have the facility open by June or July, which is only a month or two away. Never let it be said that Coalition members are not prepared to acknowledge a good outcome—even though it has been a long struggle over 14 years to get dialysis services into Mona Vale or Manly hospitals. But we will not say anything negative about this issue because we are so pleased to have this service. We welcome it on behalf of our residents. However, there is another part to the equation.
Mr Rob Stokes:
Mr BRAD HAZZARD: As the member for Pittwater acknowledges, it is a bit unfortunate that we have to say once again—as we have for years—that the Government has failed to deliver on its promise to provide the people of the northern beaches with a new hospital. Manly Hospital has been run down—death by 1,000 lashes—during the 14 years that Labor has been in government. There is no argument that Manly Hospital was old when Labor came to office, but it had been maintained. The local community was heartened by that maintenance and was always prepared to raise money for the hospital. In fact, Harbord Diggers was a major sponsor of Manly Hospital. It raised millions of dollars, particularly for the orthopaedic ward.
The wonderfully supportive community of Pittwater has done everything possible to keep Mona Vale Hospital going. We acknowledge that finally, after years of Liberal members calling for maintenance work, some has been done in recent times—upon which the member for Pittwater will elaborate later. We acknowledge that work, but the Government promised a new hospital. The new hospital was originally to be located at Brookvale, then at Dee Why and finally at Frenchs Forest. We are quite prepared to be flexible; the problem is that the Government is allowing the facilities at Manly and Mona Vale hospitals in a broader sense—not just in the smaller areas that have been dealt with constructively—to diminish.
The population on the northern beaches needs a new hospital. I will not go back over the history of this issue because I have done that many times in the House. For more than a decade, residents have sought a new hospital on the northern beaches. I place on record the fact that every previous health Minister visited the hospitals and/or met with local Liberal members of Parliament to discuss the matter. They did not necessarily lead us as truthfully as they might to where we should have been heading, but they nevertheless discussed the issue, and progressed it in that sense. Since John Della Bosca became the Minister for Health he has not once visited Manly Hospital or Mona Vale Hospital. It is only a 25-minute drive from Parliament House to Manly Hospital, and 35 to 45 minutes down to Mona Vale Hospital. But the Minister has not once got into the big white saloon that is parked downstairs and driven to those hospitals.
Mr Rob Stokes: We would shout him lunch.
Mr BRAD HAZZARD: As the member for Pittwater said, he and I would shout the Minister lunch. Over the years I have had in my electorate the most senior Ministers in this Government—I will not name them—whom I have fed and watered on Dee Why Beach, which is a wonderful spot with great restaurants. We are quite prepared to do that with Mr Della Bosca. We know his propensity for good dinners and good lunches. We promise him that it will not be another Iguanagate; there will be no Iguanas, no problems. We will look after him. We will take him down to Dee Why Beach and feed him. The Minister needs to understand that the people on the northern beaches are also part of his constituency. Regardless of whether people live in Liverpool, Parramatta, Cronulla, Bega, the Tweed or Broken Hill, the Government is in office for at least another 20 months and is supposed to govern for all of them. It is time that Minister Della Bosca visited hospitals on the northern beaches.
In a recent answer to a question on notice the Minister indicated that he had visited 66 different hospitals since he became Minister, but he could not make the half-hour drive north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We often discover that Ministers who have left office visit the northern beaches regularly. They come over our way because they like the northern beaches. In fact, every Minister who has left this place has told me at some point that he or she has been to the northern beaches for social occasions. I am sure that when Minister Della Bosca heads up to the Central Coast he could divert slightly and whip down to Manly and Mona Vale hospitals.
We are concerned that our constituents are dying. This is a serious issue. People are not getting the medical attention they need. In the past couple of years I have had family members admitted to Manly Hospital. In fact, a very close family member died last year in that hospital so I have more than a passing understanding of the need for good hospital facilities. I was standing beside this close family relative when somebody came up and warned me that they thought the ceiling was going to fall in on her as she was dying. I felt quite hurt that I, as a local member of Parliament on the northern beaches, had not been able to get this Government to respond to this problem. Indeed, my constituents are also hurt that the Government has not responded to them in the way that a government should.
Debate adjourned on motion by Dr Andrew McDonald and set down as an order of the day for a future day.
[The Assistant Speaker (Mr Grant McBride) left the chair at 1.30 p.m. The House resumed at 2.15 p.m.