The decision by Kadina Medical Associates to withdraw from the Wallaroo Hospital Emergency Department on-call roster was not a shock. What should be more of a surprise is how long the hard-working Kadina Medical Associates GPs were able to continue to be the sole provider supporting the Wallaroo Hospital, after the withdrawal from the roster in the last 18-24 months from both the Wallaroo and Moonta Medical Practices.
I commend the long-term diligence of the Kadina GPs who were valiant and willing to sole-service the hospital, essentially placing themselves on call for 24 hour shifts for extended periods.
Such unacceptable workloads are doing nothing to attract and retain GPs in our electorate -- and across regional SA -- and outcomes are urgent from the policy work that has been underway for many months to address this issue.
I wrote to the Minister for Health the Hon. Stephen Wade MLC some weeks ago to update him when the Kadina Medical Associates decision appeared imminent. Having visited the Wallaroo Hospital back in April, and also having attended the Wallaroo Town hall community forum I chaired in October 2017 to discuss the hospital’s future services, the Minister is well across the issues we are facing.
Since my election, I have appreciated involvement with the Wallaroo Health Services Planning Steering Group, including Country Health SA and local leaders from within our acute and community health systems. It is hoped positive outcomes will result from this work.
In renewed contact this week with the Minister, I have again argued that there has got to be a more cost effective, permanent patient-friendly model of care than full-time locum staffing.
It is stressed the withdrawal by the Kadina Practise GPs does not mean the loss of 24/7 emergency services at Wallaroo. What is does mean is that Country Health SA is now forced to take over entirely the servicing of the Wallaroo Hospital’s Emergency Department -- an outcome that is expensive and, additionally, not ideal for patients who will be treated by a revolving door of sourced locums.
I believe the impending roll out of the Marshall Liberal Government’s new Local Health Network Governing Boards will make a difference, just by decentralising the system and putting real responsibility and accountability back in the hands of local board members. Recruitment of board members is well underway (submissions close tomorrow, 2 Nov) and the new governance structures will be fully operational by 1 July 2019.
Wallaroo Hospital is the electorate’s major regional health facility. It must be appropriately staffed and equipped - to not only meet current needs but, in a region of highest population growth in the State and with significant increases in tourism visitation projected, health and hospital services must meet rising future demand.