THE Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party has labelled Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson a hypocrite, after he vowed to support more nurses in Manilla, despite having voted against a bill that would have given the town an extra full-time registered nurse.
However, Mr Anderson has stood by the decision to vote down the bill, and said he was already working towards resolving Manilla’s issue with Hunter New England Health (HNEH).
He said the bill would have placed too much financial strain on regional nursing homes, but Shooters Tamworth candidate Jeff Bacon said Mr Anderson “can’t have it both ways”.
Nurses at Manilla District Hospital are fighting for two additional registered nurses and four more nursing assistants.
As a multi-purpose service (MPS), the hospital is not bound by patient-to-staff ratios. In 2017, the Shooters introduced a bill to mandate one registered nurse at all times in nursing homes, which Mr Anderson and his Nationals colleagues voted down.
“It’s complete hypocrisy,” Mr Bacon told The Leader.
“You can’t on one hand vote a bill down and then pay lip service to nurses saying you support them.
“Manilla MPS is 80 per cent nursing home patients. His government has consistently rejected compulsory ratios in smaller rural hospitals.”
Mr Anderson said that, had the SFF’s bill passed, “a lot of regional nursing homes would not be able to afford that mandate”.
“Once you put a registered nurse on, you have to shed other staff to make room in your budget,” he said.
The Tamworth MP said he’d met with both the Manilla nurses and HNEH.
“The nurses expressed concern to me about staffing and inconsistencies with management,” he said.
“I’ve had discussions with HNEH and they’ve since met with the nurses, which is great. I’m now waiting for a brief to see how that went. I’m hopeful we can resolve this problem.”