Union: Hunter asbestos removal unit might be axed due to budget cuts

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A team of asbestos experts tasked to remove and monitor asbestos in Hunter medical facilities is facing the risk of being axed due to state government health budget cuts, a union says.

The asbestos removal unit of Hunter New England was put into place in the wake of the Newcastle earthquake because of asbestos risks to patients and hospital staff.

According to Fairfax Media, the Health Services Union’s NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said the team is facing closure due to the government’s $ 3billion health budget cuts.

“It’s beyond belief that a health system would cut funding to a unit that helps prevent asbestos-related disease,” he said.

The state government however said $ 2.2billion in savings will be reinvested in frontline services.

Fairfax Media further reported that Hunter New England Health area facilities management unit manager Phil Gralton said new requirements for asbestos removal and management were introduced under reforms to Work Health and Safety laws.

“Hunter New England Health is reviewing the legislation to determine how the organisation can best comply with the new requirements,” said Mr Gralton.

“We are committed to ensuring a safe environment for our employees, patients and visitors. Asbestos identified at any (Hunter New England) Health site will continue to be managed safely and appropriately.”

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