Northern Beaches Hospital has come under fire from local MPs over cuts to services.

Local MPs Michael Regan and Dr Sophie Scamps have reacted angrily to reports last week in The Sydney Morning Herald that the Northern Beaches Hospital would be making cuts to mental health and maternity services.

The Sydney Morning Herald report, which has not been challenged by hospital operator Healthscope, said that cuts would be made to nursing staff in the mental health unit, and that shifts would be cut from both the mental health and maternity wards.

Michael Regan

Member for Wakehurst Michael Regan (image above) said he was ‘outraged’ by the cuts, particularly to mental health services, and called for the private operator to return the hospital to public management.

“The community has been calling out for better acute mental health care. These cuts are the exact opposite of what’s needed. The decision to reduce staffing levels amidst ongoing systemic issues at the hospital is alarming.

“The reported cuts, including halving the number of full-time nurse unit managers and reducing shifts in crucial areas like adult mental health and maternity, will undoubtedly strain this already overburdened workforce.

“Our community deserves a reliable and high quality public health service that puts patient care above all else. Healthscope’s claim that ‘proposed changes will in no way compromise the quality of patient care and will have a minimal impact on existing roles’ is spin I do not buy,” said Mr Regan.

Northern Beaches Hospital Emergency Department

“Greater scrutiny of Northern Beaches Hospital is urgently needed. I am seeking to have the NSW Auditor General’s performance audit of the hospital expedited so the community can get greater clarity and evidenced-based recommendations.

“Healthscope and the hospital management need to reverse these proposed cuts. They must prioritise the well-being of both patients and staff. We cannot afford to further compromise on the quality of healthcare services provided to our community, especially in such critical areas as mental health and maternity care.

“To Healthscope, if you can’t meet legitimate public expectations of levels of service and staffing, hand the contract back to the government,” declared Mr Regan.

Dr Sophie Scamps at Northern Beaches Hospital

That position was supported by Mackellar MP Dr Sophie Scamps (image above), who in July 2023, called on hospital management to resign for failing to deliver promised youth mental health beds.

“I’m deeply concerned that these latest cuts to nursing staff at the Northern Beaches Hospital will add to the burnout and stress of an already stretched workforce.

“As a public private partnership this Northern Beaches Hospital does not have to adhere to the same staffing standards — nurse to patient ratios — that public hospitals do, and nurses are concerned about their capacity to deliver quality health care,” said Dr Scamps.

Northern Beaches Hospital main entry

The promised mental health beds were scrapped in February after a review by the NSW Government found the promised beds were ‘not feasible’. The hospital will also be looking for a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), with current CEO Andrew Newton announcing his departure at the end of March to join the Western Sydney Primary Health Network ‘WentWest‘.

Northern Beaches Hospital was approached for comment.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate (file)

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