First on the Country Cabinet itinerary for Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis MP on Wednesday was fittingly talking health services with Minister Chris Picton at Wallaroo Hospital, and Mr Ellis reports pleasing results.
“This was a valuable opportunity to show the Minister and department heads existing facilities and services and where improvements are sorely needed”, Mr Ellis said.
“Discussions were heartening around future workforce to increase local theatre activity, the main game having more locals able to access more health services locally instead of travelling far from home.
“Seeing the near-completed rehabilitation unit was a highlight, with 12 of the 13 Allied Health staff recruited ready to go when this new facility within Wallaroo Hospital opens in March. This will be a game changer for patients recovering from serious injury - not just in our region but for the patients from around the State that will use this unit -- and you could hear the excitement felt by the newly recruited physio, OT and fellow specialist staff when speaking with them about this project.
“This is a first for our area and means locals recovering from a stroke, amputation, orthopaedic surgery, or cancer treatment can access the vital rehabilitation they need instead of having to recover for lengthy periods in the city or in Berri.
“I was also very pleased to have confirmed that the 4-chair chemotherapy unit at Wallaroo is to increase its operation from one day to two days a week from March and that there is active work underway to raise Wallaroo’s service tiers to match Port Pirie’s resources.
“It is imperative that Wallaroo Hospital as our region’s largest hospital, is better resourced to ensure it can keep up with increasing community demand on its services”, Mr Ellis said.
Mr Ellis said he was pleased to see Minister Picton meeting directly with local nurses and doctors, and additionally with Kadina former patient Sharon Wallace who provided feedback on what a difference the recent doubling of the PATS fuel subsidy has meant for her in sourcing the medical care she has needed in Adelaide.
“More than 3,000 trips were claimed from the Copper Coast area last year and the 32 cents per kilometre now paid means all these people will no longer be so drastically left out of pocket in travelling up and back from Adelaide for services not available locally”, Mr Ellis said.
“I was also very pleased to have confirmed that this year 36 new nurses have been recruited to the Yorke and Northern Local Health Network and that seven of these are to Wallaroo”.
Mr Ellis said Minister Picton also toured Maitland and Yorketown Hospitals to hear directly from staff at these hospitals; visited Wallaroo Ambulance Station; and met with local GPs and YNLHN Board and Health Advisory Council members.
“Ministers meeting with frontline health workers and with supporting network personnel can only be a good thing and I thank all who took the time to participate in the tours and forums held across the electorate last week”, Mr Ellis said.