The hospital that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Premier Kristina Keneally chose as the location to trumpet health reforms is labouring under a budget shortfall of nearly $12 million and a spiralling surgical waiting list.Documents leaked to The Sun-Herald show Blacktown Hospital was in the red by $11.94 million in January, making it one of the sickest establishments within the Sydney West Area Health Service (SWAHS).Separate documents show Blacktown’s waiting list nearly doubled from 570 patients in December 2008 to 921 in December last year. Mr Rudd and Ms Keneally visited the 350-bed Blacktown Hospital last week to announce just 18 new beds as part of what they described as their ”historic health and hospital reform”.A week earlier, Blacktown’s Labor MP Paul Gibson told a local newspaper: ”We need another 110 beds, and we need them yesterday.”About one in five patients now being treated in nearby Westmead Hospital have been referred by Blacktown due to a bed shortage.A fortnight ago it was revealed that the 13 hospitals in the Sydney West region had combined debts of $18.9 million at the end of the last financial year. SWAHS, which serves 1 million people, has been accused of failing to pay suppliers of medicines and diagnostic tests due to financial constraints.Opposition health spokeswoman Jillian Skinner said Blacktown’s financial woes were ”highly embarrassing” for Mr Rudd and Ms Keneally. ”Their announcement won’t fix the $12 million budget blowout, it won’t cut the waiting list which has more than doubled since 2006 … Blacktown Hospital … will now be in cost-cutting mode because of Labor’s failed management of our health system.”A spokesman for Health Minister Carmel Tebbutt said Blacktown’s budget shortfall varied by less than 5 per cent from its budget.He said the hospital is $5 million over budget.”It is the waiting time, not list, that is important and Blacktown has recently received enhancement money for surgery from the Area Health Service and is on track to meet its target of all patients being treated within clinical benchmarks by June 2010,” he said.
Nanjing Night Net