HEALTH Minister Peter Malinauskas has stood by the Mount Gambier Hospital’s response to an independent review, but has conceded the recruitment of doctors continues to be an issue for the facility.
Despite the sweeping review being undertaken more than 12 months ago, the hospital has yet to implement all 22 of the recommendations that were handed down in March last year.
Independent Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell and Liberal candidate Craig Marsh continue to air concerns over the slow progress of the review’s recommendations as well as the recruitment and retention of medical professionals.
Mr Malinauskas made a flying visit to Mount Gambier yesterday morning to announce a $2.1m commitment to the redevelopment of the hospital’s renal dialysis unit.
Announcing a new $140m infrastructure package for country hospitals yesterday, the health minister told media “by in large” he was pleased with implementation of the review recommendations.
However, Mr Malinauskas conceded he harboured some concerns over the stability of its medical workforce, but said the issue was not “exclusive” to Mount Gambier.
“There are a lot of dedicated health professionals who enjoy working in regional areas and we have to spread that message as strongly as we can so we can attract staff and retain them,” he said.
While a number of recommendations had been achieved, he said work was ongoing.
“The truth is in South Australia we have an incredibly good health system, but things do go wrong and there is always need for improvement,” Mr Malinauskas said.
“By in large, if you are going to be unwell anywhere in the world – South Australia is a pretty good place to get treated.”
But, he said there needed to be continual improvements within the system.
“The review of the Mount Gambier Hospital is a part of that exercise.”
Mr Bell said there needed to be “greater urgency” to address the issues raised in the review.
“The review was undertaken more than 12 months ago and not all of the recommendations have been recommended,” he said.
Commending the facility was achieving some of the recommendations, he said there needed to be continued pressure on the facility and health authorities.
“These recommendations should have been done,” Mr Bell said.
The MP also described the commitment from both the Labor and Liberal Party for the renal dialysis unit upgrade as a major bipartisan win for the community.
Mr Marsh claimed yesterday the hospital was too reliant on locum doctors, which was not only draining the health budget but impacting on the continuity of care.
“I have been told that on average on any one day, there are five locum physicians at the hospital,” the political aspirant said.
He claimed locum doctors were being “rushed off their feet” because of there was a bare minimum of coverage.
Mr Marsh argued there must be a greater push to retain resident doctors.
Regarding the government’s $2.1m funding commitment for the renal unit, he said the Labor Party was playing “catch up” with Liberal Party policy.
“The Labor Government should be in front of the ball – we made a commitment to upgrade the renal unit in early November,” Mr Marsh said.
He said the Labor Government had 16 years and had let the Mount Gambier Hospital’s renal unit deteriorate into an “unacceptable condition”.
“The fact this upgrade has been secured for the people of Mount Gambier is fantastic news for the local community and I will continue to fight for additional services and upgrades for the people of Mount Gambier,” he said.
“I’d also like to thank Maureen Klintberg for her tireless campaigning and support which was crucial to securing this upgrade.”