Victoria’s Opposition Health Spokesperson Georgie Crozier has urged the Andrews Government to release the feasibility study for the Swan Hill Hospital. Ms Crozier has met with the Swan Hill Needs A New Hospital Committee. She has said the community is concerned the $30m from the Federal Government might be at risk if the State Government fails to make a contribution. A link to my interview with ABC Mildura – Swan Hill 6:30 News is HERE:
Victorian Shadow Health Minister Georgie Crozier and Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh at Swan Hill District Health on Wednesday. Picture: CAITLIN McARTHUR. Photo from the Swan Hill Guardian.
Release the Study – COMMITMENT CRITICAL
By Caitlin Mcarthur
Swan Hill Guardian
8 November, 2019
SHADOW Health Minister Georgie Crozier will take the case of the Swan Hill hospital to the Health Minister, calling for the release of the feasibility study on an upgraded facility.
Ms Crozier visited Swan Hill District Health (SHDH) with Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh on Wednesday, for a tour of the facility, followed by a meeting with the Swan Hill Needs a New Hospital committee.
Ms Crozier said in addition to the overall state of the building, the committee had also raised fears a failure to secure a commitment from the state could jeopardise federal funding already pledged to a new hospital.
However, Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos’ office hit back at the suggestion, arguing the delivery of the federal commitment was a matter for the federal government.
It was the shadow health minister’s first time at the facility, and she told The Guardian there were a number of “clear challenges” staff were operating under.
“Really, in terms of the physical space of the hospital, the constraints that the clinicians are working under in some areas are very clearly difficult for them at times,” Ms Crozier said.
“And in terms of just understanding what the hospital needs, it is an aging facility and it needs substantial work done on it. It needs rebuilding.”
Ms Crozier said a lack of space was a clear issue for both staff and patients.
“There were lots of areas that needed a rebuild, areas where the clinicians, nurses and doctors work out of and some areas where the patients are – they need a proper facility as well to get the care that they need,” she said.
“At the moment, they are under huge constraints with what they’re operating under, especially with the emergency department. The oncology area was very tight, there was not a lot of space or room, for them to operate on or for the privacy of the patient.
“That becomes an issue when you don’t have a lot of room to move in, plus it’s a very old facility itself.”
The Masterplan for the hospital was completed in September, but its public release delayed to allow for a feasibility study to take place.
Shadow health minister tours hospital that ‘needs rebuilding’ Calls for feasibility study into new hospital to be released
THIS would then be followed by a business case, presented to the government in hopes of securing a funding commitment in time for the next state budget.
Time limitations were raised as a concern when this was announced, and Ms Crozier and Mr Walsh said it was time the community were brought up to speed on the process.
“We were spoken to about the masterplan and the feasibility study, the government really needs to release that feasibility study and plan, and let the community understand what is going on,” Ms Crozier said.
“It is critical that is done as soon as possible. The public here in Swan Hill need to understand what is in that feasibility plan and the government needs to release it, so that they are fully aware of what is happening.”
An added concern is a commitment of $30 million in federal funding, announced in April this year, to be delivered over the next five years in three $10 million installments.
“There is federal funding that has been committed to the hospital rebuild and we need to know if that is contingent on state money,” Ms Crozier said.
“I think it is really important that the state government comes clean and fully puts up what they need, if that federal money is contingent to ensure they are not at risk of losing it. I will be raising that with the minister myself.”
Mr Walsh said at the heart of the issue was a need to support the staff operating out of a facility no longer fit-for-purpose.
“What everyone is concerned about is if the state doesn’t put any money in next year, do we lose $10 million in funding because the state doesn’t give a commitment,” he said. It is a concern that Georgie is going to raise following today’s (Wednesday’s) meeting.
“As everyone has always said, it is not about the staff that deliver the services, it is about the physical infrastructure they have to work in. It’s about getting the feasibility released and clarifying what is going on with the money so that that funding is not lost through the inaction of the Labor Andrews Government.”
Ms Crozier said there was a sense of “immense frustration” from the Swan Hill Needs a New Hospital committee.
“I’m not sure how long they have been in operation, but it is my understanding it has been for some time and they just want to see a really good hospital for their community,” she said.
“At the moment, they have road blocks and they want to know what is going on so that they can get the hospital up and running and catering for the community in Swan Hill. Most of the doctors I spoke with are doing fantastic work, in very confined spaces, very difficult conditions, not complaining, just getting on and doing what they can, but they deserve better than that.
“Clearly there is an urgent need and I would hope the government would understand that and provide the funding that is required.” A spokesperson for Ms Mikakos’ office said the government was continuing to invest in the needs of the Swan Hill hospital.
“We won’t be taking lectures from Georgie Crozier and the Liberal-Nationals when it comes to health,” the spokesperson said.
“Their record is one of cuts, closures and privatisation. If Georgie Crozier has information suggesting her mates in Canberra are planning to break their promise, she should come clean. We are continuing to invest in the urgent needs of Swan Hill hospital while the Department of Health and Human Services works with Swan Hill on its master planning for the future.
“The masterplan is in its final stages, and will help us map out a way forward for the future of the Swan Hill hospital.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s office was contacted for comment.
Chair of the Swan Hill Needs a New Hospital committee Les McPhee with Ms Crozier.