Rural health service erosion raised in Parliament

Rural health service erosion raised in Parliament

The loss of certain health services at Lucindale, Coonalpyn and Tintinara was not a State Government decision according to Health Minister Chris Picton.

He was responding to a question submitted in Question Time last week by Independent Member for MacKillop Nick McBride.

As has been the recent custom among ministers in Question Time, Mr Picton praised Mr McBride for his advocacy for the MacKillop electorate

“These are changes in relation to the local community services in those localities,” Minister Picton said.

“It is a local decision that has been made by the local health network under their governing boards, and it is not something the department or the government has had any direction in.

“I have committed to the Member for MacKillop that we will organise for him to meet with not only myself but with the local health network board and CEOs so he can raise these issues and we can work through if there are ways that we can address the concerns of his community.”

Afterwards, Mr McBride issued the following statement to the media.

“Community nursing services, currently provided by Country Health Connect through the Local Health Networks, have changed from a ‘drop-in’ service in the three towns, to an ‘appointment only’ service.” Mr McBride said.

“Patients must ring a centralised phone line to make a booking, which may not be available for several days.

“They also may need a referral from their doctor to use the service.

“The clinics have also changed the scope of their practice – and no longer offer certain services, including ear syringing, ECG’s, removal of sutures and point of care INR testing services.

“The changes were announced earlier this year by the Riverland Mallee Coorong Local Health Network, and the Limestone Coast Local Health Network and locals say there was no consultation with the community.

“I believe the changes will have a negative impact on what is an already stretched medical system in the region.

“Locals rely on community health nursing services.

“They negate the need to travel to larger towns such as Naracoorte, Keith or Tailem Bend.

“These services have helped keep people out of hospital, or the need to see a doctor.

“We know there is a major doctor shortage and this will impact the entire medical system.”

“I fear that if community nursing is not easily available – people – especially the elderly – will think it’s too hard – and their health outcomes will suffer.

“Rural communities need experienced nursing staff who can do a broad range of procedures.

“There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to the health needs of small communities.

“I will be meeting with Mr Picton in early March and I have received an assurance from Minister Picton the concerns of his constituents – and doctors – will be addressed by the Department and the Local Health Networks.”

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