A rally at Spinks Park in Lismore on Saturday, November 29, from 1pm will protest plans to cut 400 jobs from the North Coast Area Health Service.

The Far North Coast region’s four Nationals MPs — Thomas George (Lismore), Don Page (Ballina), Steve Cansdell (Grafton) and Geoff Provest (Tweed) — are rallying the call to protest the plans, announced as part of last week’s NSW State mini-budget.

Mr Page has raised in Parliament today the mooted job cuts, saying he is concerned about patient care.

“I have advice that some 400 jobs are to go from within the North Coast Area Health Service,” he told Parliament.

“This is completely unacceptable to residents of the North Coast and the frontline medical staff who work in our hospitals.

“I raised this issue in Parliament at the first opportunity.

“The State Labor Government must be told that residents of the North Coast will not accept any losses to frontline services in our health system.

“I ask the Health Minister, John Della Bosca, to immediately provide us with details about how many jobs are to be cut and what areas those jobs are in.

“Is the State Labor Government looking at reducing the number of bureaucratic jobs or is it going to axe jobs that will have an impact on patient care?”

“I’m not the only one concerned about this.

“Other North Coast Nationals MPs, Thomas George, Steve Cansdell, Geoff Provest, Andrew Fraser and Andrew Stoner as well as the New South Wales Nurses Association, are worried about job losses and the impact that will have on patient care.

“The Rees Labor Government obviously does not understand that the health system on the North Coast is struggling.

“We have a rapidly aging population with the number of people over 65 living on the North Coast 25 per cent higher than the State average

“Indeed, the North Coast Area Health Service is already $56 million under-funded this year, according to the Government’s own Resource Allocation Formula.

“And now we’re being asked to accept a reduction in jobs to the tune of 400 positions with flow-on affects for patient care.

“This is completely unacceptable.

“The New South Wales Labor Government has robbed us of our train, upgrades of the Pacific Highway are on hold, the cost of fuel in the region is about to go up with the abolition of the fuel subsidy scheme and now we could see a shedding of 400 jobs from the health service.

“Residents of the North Coast who are concerned about the situation are being asked to attend a rally at 1pm on Saturday 29 November at Spinks Park.”