‘Clinical dispute’

‘Clinical dispute’

AMount Gambier allied health service states it has recently withdrawn its twice-weekly clinics at Millicent owing to a dispute with SA Health.

Therapy for Life Physiotherapy had been based in the dedicated physiotherapy rooms at Millicent and District Hospital for the past 20 years.

There was no lease in place and the practice owners have said the uncertainty over tenure was responsible for their decision to leave.

Co-proprietor Glenn Crowe-Owen said there had been nothing sent in writing by SA Health to his practice but rumours kept on circulating.

“Meetings were arranged with management and then they were cancelled,” Mr Crowe-Owen said.

“We were hearing whispers the hospital had other plans for the physiotherapy rooms and these plans did not include us.

“We decided to leave Millicent as we did not want to turn up there one day and find the locks had been changed.”

Therapy for Life had been sending three physiotherapists to Millicent and its current number of active clients was over 100.

“Over our 20 years in Millicent, we would have seen a significant percentage of the town,” Mr Crowe-Owen said.

In response, Limestone Coast Local Health Network chief executive Emma Poland confirmed that initial conversations had commenced with Therapy for Life regarding the establishment of a formal agreement to provide physiotherapy services at the Millicent Hospital site.

“It was intended that this would form part of a broader review of arrangements with private providers who deliver services at our health sites,” Ms Poland said.

“Formal agreements provide assurance for both parties regarding their rights and obligations to ensure safe services and environments for our consumers, staff, and service partners,” Ms Poland said.

“The LCLHN are continually reviewing and assessing the use of clinical spaces to optimise our use of resources, with emphasis on the unique needs of local communities.

“The space that was previously utilised by Therapy for Life two days a week had historically been used by other services, including the Country Health Connect (CHC) Respiratory team who continue to use the space one day a week.

“There are a number of physiotherapy providers currently providing services in the Wattle Range Council area, and the Millicent Hospital is well supported by Country Health Connect allied health staff providing these services on site in both the aged care and acute settings.

“Country Health Connect staff also provide allied health and community nursing services to local residents in the community.”

Wattle Range Mayor Des Noll said it was “very disappointing and concerning” for the local community to hear this was happening to the professional physiotherapy health services.

“There needs to be greater cooperation and communication from SA Health and the Limestone Coast Local Health Network to the community,” Mayor Noll said.

“As a community we hear very little from them.

“We only ever hear about these issues after they have occurred and the service has been withdrawn.

“I would expect better from both SA Health and the Limestone Coast Local Health Network.

“At the end of the day it’s the community that is disadvantaged and it now appears patients will need to travel to access these services.”

A Millicent client of Therapy for Life also said the loss of physiotherapy services at the hospital was to be regretted.

“It is an inconvenience to me to have to make a 100km round trip to Mount Gambier, but others are worse off than me,” the client said.

“There is no public transport between these two places.

“I am worried the physiotherapy services might never return to Millicent Hospital.

“We were told by the regional health officials back in 2013 obstetric services at Millicent Hospital would only be temporarily suspended but they have never been re-instated.”

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