Katoomba Hospital's maternity and children's wards were closed from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning due to a gap in the shift rosters for a paediatrician, prompting a political war of words.
Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage told the Gazette on Monday a "rare rostering issue" meant a paediatrician was not available at Katoomba Hospital for the shifts, but resumed duties at 8am on Sunday.
"Pre-arranged plans for locum staff to cover the shift failed at short notice," Mrs Sage said, confirming one paediatric patient and one maternity patient who might otherwise have received their care in Katoomba were forced to go to Nepean Hospital for treatment.
She said the rest of Katoomba Hospital's departments, including emergency, remained open.
But NSW opposition health spokesman Dr Andrew McDonald accused the NSW government of incompetence for not ensuring contingency plans were in place.
"It is outrageous and unacceptable that Health Minister Jillian Skinner could allow a major regional hospital to shut down its children's ward for the weekend because of a shortage of paediatricians," Dr McDonald said.
He said the situation caused severe inconvenience to patients and put "many women and children at additional medical risk".
Labor candidate for Blue Mountains Trish Doyle said she was "furious that expectant mothers and ill children in the Blue Mountains have been endangered in this way".
While acknowledging that unplanned holes in shift rosters for specialist staff "will happen" from time to time, Ms Doyle said many locum paediatricians live in the Blue Mountains and Nepean regions, so there should be no excuse for a hospital in the 21st century to have to temporary close its maternity and children's wards.
Ms Doyle also called for the introduction of a minimum nurse-to-patient ratio for shifts at Katoomba Hospital and accused the Baird government of cutting $3 billion from the NSW hospital system.
Mrs Sage fired back, claiming the 2014-15 NSW health budget had increased by 5.2 per cent compared to the previous year "so claims of cuts are ludicrous".
"Labor should hang their heads in shame over the scare mongering by the Shadow Health Minister and local candidate (Trish Doyle), considering their history with service cuts at Katoomba Hospital.
"Under this government, interns were appointed to the Blue Mountains for the first time and health minister Jillian Skinner declared Katoomba Hospital an 'area of need position' enabling the hospital to offer incentives to recruit medical specialists."