COUNTRY health is in pain, and the people in the coal face are fed up with the way they’ve been treated.
Over 150 country health workers, concerned residents and members of local governments met at the Quorn Town Hall on Wednesday, March 15.
They heard from local state and federal politicians, country doctors and members of healthy advisory country boards.
The subjects of discussion included, but were not limited to, diminishing role of country hospitals, the centralisation of services and the impact on patients.
Quorn GP Dr Tony Lian-Lloyd, who has been based in Quorn for 25 years, said the meeting was designed to get some ‘serious communication’ with the state government and Country Health SA.
He said their policies have white-anted small to medium country hospitals such as the centres in Quorn and Hawker, made country positions economically unviable for country doctors and left centres like the Port Augusta Hospital lagging.
“Port Augusta hospital is unique in its own set of problems … they are like many other regional hospitals ..” Dr Tony Lian-Lloyd said.
“Port Augusta has particular problems with staffing its accident emergency.
“They (state government) are not talking to us, they do not communicate with us, they do not consult with us, what’s more, they don’t consult with the wider community.”
He said this will also have a major impact for elderly residents who depend on country hospitals.
It has the potential to lead to an increase of deaths in transit to major public hospitals when they could be managed locally, and poorer health outcomes for elderly residents. Country Health SA CEO Maree Geraghty attended and said her organisation is continuing to look at how to maintain improve country health.
She highlighted a recent $536,000 investment into the Mount Gambier Hospital, but when asked about internal or independent reviews into health service centres in Quorn, Port Augusta and Hakwer, she said she hasn’t received any specific concerns about those centres.
“My understanding is all of those deliver very good services to those communities, I’d like to wait and see what specific issues the community raises before we jump to concerns,” she said.
State Shadow Health Minister Stephen Wade, who made a presentation, said country South Australians don’t want closures or downgrades of health facilities like they’ve seen in metropolitan Adelaide. “The concerns being raised by country health workers in South Australia have been longstanding grievances,” he said.