HOSPITALS are being asked to ditch bottled water in a desperate bid to cut costs.
Nurses have been urged to serve tap water in jugs to save the state $1 million a year.
At least three million bottles are handed out to patients a year in a practice going on since 2007. But NSW Health is not sure why or how it started, as only half the state's hospitals use bottles - with the rest serving water in jugs.
With no official policy or reasons to justify the expensive practice, Health Minister Jillian Skinner has ordered all local health district chairs to look at banning the bottles.
It comes as government employees, including nurses, have been asked to rein in their costs to offset pay rises.
Mrs Skinner said she was concerned not only about the costs but the impact bottles have on the environment."If not, I see significant cost savings could be made in this area. I am particularly concerned that we're giving people the message that Sydney water is not safe to drink, and that we're responsible for discarding three million plastic bottles a year."
"I would like them to seriously consider whether they have a genuine clinical need to supply patients with bottled water," she said.
Some major hospitals such as Prince of Wales, Sydney Children's and Royal Hospital for Women at Randwick, don't use bottled water. These hospitals prefer nurses to hand out jugs to patients, and help those unable to hold cups.
One department source said there was anecdotal evidence that staff were using the bottles themselves.
Other hospitals use bottles because staff have complained of occupational health and safety issues over using jugs.
"There is inconsistent use of bottles across NSW, Some hospitals use bottles, some jugs," the source said. "You have to ask why some say it's an occupational risk to use jugs. There's also no clear or strong link between infection rates and use of water jugs."
In the lead-up to September's budget, all local health boards will have to provide the government with details as to why they want to continue using bottled water.
Mrs Skinner said she hoped boards would chose the more economical option.
Read more: http://www.news.com.au/national/hospitals-in-nsw-asked-to-ditch-bottled-water-in-a-desperate-bid-to-cut-costs/story-e6frfkvr-1226082467501#ixzz1TjbSxW4X