NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns has pledged to address issues at the 100-year-old Anzac Memorial Hospital in Katoomba after a visit to the region on Tuesday, August 2.
Mr Minns said it was his top priority to look after frontline workers after meeting with health staff, teachers, rail unionists and business owners in a whirlwind tour of the area.
"A huge number of patients in this 100-year-old hospital are being sent away to be treated and countless staff in the emergency department have left altogether. This is the reality in many hospitals across NSW - underfunded and under huge stress."
"The circumstances [at Katoomba] are dire, many people presenting to emergency are triaged only to find there's not enough services to do an operation or an ECG ... so they are transferred down to Nepean, only to be triaged again which exacerbates the wait time and pulls ambulances out of the Blue Mountains.
"We've got a structural problem ... the government must act or we will."
He said pledges to hire extra staff state wide had come too late during a labour crunch.
Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle said "there were serious staff shortages, patient care was being compromised and the hospital needed some attention".
NSW Upper House Liberal MP Shayne Mallard welcomed Mr Minns' "apparent commitment to a new hospital for Katoomba and the Blue Mountains".
"Every person and their dog would welcome a $500 million commitment for a new Blue Mountains hospital by NSW Labor opposition. Whilst they are at it maybe ask the Federal Labor member to chip in as the Liberals did for Nepean Hospital," said Mr Mallard.
"It's now time for Labor to put up or shut up."
Meanwhile, Mr Minns said it is the NSW Premier and the Treasurer, not the Transport Minister David Elliot, holding up successful negotiations on trains after meeting with rail workers in the Mountains.
Mr Minns and Ms Doyle met with rail guards at Mt Victoria where many of the New Intercity Fleet lie idle. It comes as rolling train strikes are set to hit the network this month.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) is locked in a stalemate with the government over a new enterprise agreement and a Korean-made New Intercity train Fleet, with the union pushing for a deal guaranteeing fixes to safety issues.
The government, which argues the fleet is safe, has promised to spend $264 million to modify the stock but the union wants written confirmation. The RTBU said further protected industrial action would take place after the government failed to unlink its pledge to fix the fleet's issues from rail workers' wages and conditions.
Ms Doyle said she made a commitment to support building trains in Australia "many moons ago".
Mr Minns acknowledged Ms Doyle's work in the area and said both Queensland and Victoria were now committed to supporting infrastructure manufacturing at home. "Cost blowouts had negated any savings and we had lost jobs in the process," he said.
RTBU NSW secretary Alex Claassens said the sporadic strikes would occur in one area at a time, meaning trains could continue to run in most areas.
The first strike on August 10 will impact train services in Sydney's south. Other strikes will take place on August 17, 23 and 25. The escalation of action comes after the union last week hit the network with a four-hour strike that ended at 4am on Thursday.
Last month the government tried to end the industrial action but the case against the union was dismissed by the Fair Work Commission.
Mr Minns said: "We need to see that caveat signed. There's an agreement that's been brokered by the Transport Minister ... for some reason that's been stopped by the treasurer and the premier of NSW. I think people are sick of this. We don't want industrial action disrupting the lives of people in the Blue Mountains or the rest of Sydney."
But Liberal MP Shayne Mallard blamed the unions for the stalemate over the new train fleet.
He suggested Mr Minns "should talk with long suffering rail commuters and explain why they must struggle to work on 40-year-old trains, because Labor and their unions are blackmailing the state government and taxpayers over the moth-balled new inter city rail fleet with bogus union safety claims".
During his visit, Mr Minns also said tourism operators in the area had done it hard in the past 24 months and Labor had an obligation to build up the local recovery. He said Labor would invest heavily in social housing which would support low paid workers in the area.
- with Australian Association Press.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.