Health minister visits city

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Health minister visits city

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Chris Picton visited the Limestone Coast last week to announce over $30m for upgrades to health services in Mount Gambier and Naracoorte, as exclusively revealed by The SE Voice.

The Mount Gambier and Districts Health Service will receive $24m to upgrade the Mental Health Unit including doubling the capacity of the mental health beds and installing two specialised community drug and alcohol rehabilitation beds.

Upgrades will also be made to the Emergency Departments at the Mount Gambier and Districts Health Service and the Naracoorte Hospital which will receive $8m in funding.

Minister Picton visited seven towns across the Limestone Coast on his whirlwind two-day trip to meet with teams across health facilities and held a press conference at Frew Park on Thursday to discuss the improvements.

“What this trip was about was really a request from Nick McBride to visit a lot of the hospital sites and meet with the teams across the MacKillop region and I was very happy to do so because all of those health services are very important,” he said.

Minister Picton spoke on the feasibility study being undertaken by the Limestone Coast Local Health Network for the proposed dedicated radiation treatment centre in Mount Gambier.

“We have come to the conclusion that what we will do in relation to radiation oncology feasibility study is we will allow that work to happen,” he said.

“This is something a number of community members raised with us asking can we could put off signing those tenders until we see that feasibility study report, we are now doing so.

“We will keep working in terms of the architects for that because the advice from the board and consideration through the governing board here is that those upgrades to cancer are going to be needed.

“The feasibility study is important, it is the first time a feasibility study has been done on this project, this was rejected outright by the previous Liberal State and Federal governments people like Tony Pasin who is a member of the Federal Liberal Government.

“They rejected this completely previously, they were not going to progress this at the time.

“We are now doing the work in regard to that feasibility study to get the expert advice to get all of that information on the table so this can be considered properly.”

Minister Picton said the decision to spend part of the $4.3m in funds originally allocated for the radiation centre on hospital car parks had been blown out of proportion.

“I think that has been completely overblown to be honest by Tony Pasin who let’s remember rejected radiation oncology in the previous Coalition Liberal Government that was in office,” he said.

“That was a plan in regards to expanding cancer services, whenever there is an expansion in relation to hospital services, there is always a consideration in terms of making sure there is available car parking for people.

“It was not a major upgrade of car parking but it was a consideration in terms of making sure there was enough carparks for people coming for those cancer services.

“As I said that work will not be progressing in terms of signing any tenders until we see the results of the feasibility study.

Minister Picton agreed a key priority of his was the lack of health specialists within the Limestone Coast region.

“I think we have seen over the course of the past few years an increase in the number of specialists who are coming to Mount Gambier, some who do reside locally as well,” he said.

“I think we need to continue to increase that because I think if we can get more specialists providing care locally that means less travel for people having to go back and forth to Adelaide.

“That improves their healthcare outcomes in terms of being able to access that care quicker but obviously reduces the strain in terms of having to go back and forth to Adelaide.”

Minister Picton said there would also be additional ambulance crews coming to the Limestone Coast over the next two years.

“This has been a region which was previously ignored in relation to additional ambulance crews but we’re fixing that, we are putting in place additional crews, we have the plan in terms of where that is going to be happening,” he said.

“We know the services here are under pressure hence we need those additional ambos.”

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