Big turn out for Yorketown Public Meeting

Friday 21 April 2017
Big turn out for Yorketown Public Meeting

"There was a great show of support and concern for Yorketown Hospital at last night's public meeting, when 607 people filled the Yorketown Town Hall and signed the petition pushing for proper consultation and for all current services at the hospital to be maintained and supported with adequate funding and resources.


"Whilst we vow to continue the fight to retain all current services, the announcement by Shadow Minister for Health Stephen Wade that a Marshall Liberal Government if elected will spend the money necessary to upgrade the surgery was warmly applauded.

"Stay tuned for updates when more information is received." - Steven Griffiths MP.

Following is a transcript of the 639 ABC North & West radio interview, aired this morning:

639 ABC North & West radio 21 April 2017


Steven Griffiths, Member for Goyder   (ABC NORTH & WEST 8.43-8.49)   Future of Yorketown Hospital


(Williams: Last month the Member for Goyder Steven Griffiths told the ABC that from the 1st of April there would be a reduction in surgical procedures at the Yorketown Hospital … last night in Yorketown over 600 people gathered at a public meeting about the future of the hospital … Steven Griffiths … take us through the concerns that are to do with the future of the hospital, the things that were discussed last night?) … it’s actually become quite worrying in the last two months, in late February the Government decided to announce … that it was intending to remove some of the surgical procedures from Yorketown with that 1st of April date that you mentioned. Thank goodness as a result of pressure from the community, myself and a lot of people … the Government decided to lift that. They knew that they’d done the wrong thing with no community consultation. They have started that to a very minor level now but the [unclear] certainly is still very strong with people … I waited probably three weeks before I decided to call the public meeting and I did so out of desperation because the Government and Health SA were refusing to actually engage the community on what the future of services in the hospital were … last night we had on what had been a very wet day … we had 607 people there … it’s fair to say I think they’re all rather passionate about the future of the hospital, they’re concerned to see the reduction of any services the thing edge of the wedge and could lead to further reductions and they want to fight it … I fully support them. (Williams: It seems like quite an extraordinary number of people to come out on such a night for a public meeting … your reading of that is that it’s saying something on behalf of the whole community, really?) Absolutely … there are many things in life that we’re passionate about but there’s not a lot of things in life that we actually stand up and we argue and we fight … not necessarily yell and scream but we make people who make decisions know that we’re angry about it and hospitals are one of those. All our hospitals [unclear] as it did for over 100 years, they were driven by the community, they grew because of the efforts of volunteers of communities, but now indeed as part of the public health system the decision-making has been taking away and I understand to some degree, but when a proposal exists to change a level of service please don’t do as the Government did in this occasion … just completely keep the community away from it. Engage them … when the Government did decide a week and a half ago to announce that it was going to have consultation, what it did indeed was just call for one on one meetings with local hospital administrators at Yorketown Hospital. That’s not fair of them, they’re not the people that have decided this, they’re trying to make a bad situation as best they can. It’s those people who are higher up the hierarchy in health who actually need to be [unclear] so that’s why I invited Minister Snelling, Jack Snelling, to be there last night, he was unable to be there. I invited Minister Geoff Brock to be there, he was unable to be there also, but people, they want to know information and that’s why we had a public meeting, we had seven speakers here last night … we had nearly 45 minutes’ of questions and answers from the crowd too. (Williams: … nine years ago … when the Country Health Plan was introduced looking at cutting back services like surgery, obstetrics at smaller country hospitals around the state. There was a public meeting in the town, do you see any parallels between that one and this one?) Oh it was very similar, there was 700 at that meeting … I’ve convened meetings of nine years ago … there was 500 people there, and 400 people at Maitland … there was 1500 I think at Bordertown … it just shows that no matter where you live in a regional community you want to protect your hospital … I was quite proud indeed of the Southern Yorke Peninsula coming out and it was more than just Yorketown people, it was people from up to 70, 80ks away who were there because they’re interested in it and they want to be part of the argument that keeps services there too … it was obvious to people that were there last night now that it’s not just money. Yes there is a money requirement for an upgrade to the surgery, I was very pleased that Stephen Wade the Shadow Minister for Health committed that a … Marshall Liberal Government from March of next year if they win the election indeed will put the money into the surgery update but it also comes down to the availability of the skilled professionals that work in health across all regional hospitals and that’s a challenge for our society is to try and get these good people out there prepared to provide those services too. (Williams: … a particular example here of the kind of the thing that happens, the anaesthetist at the hospital … is nearing retirement … a replacement has not yet been found. If the right staff can’t be found can you really blame Country Health for looking at other options?) I understand they have to look at other options but just because a problem is a bit difficult doesn’t mean that it’s too hard to not find a fix … last night I convened the meeting and I ran it and I understand the challenges are there … we had people from the Rural Doctors Workforce Agency who explained the challenges they’ve got, but they also pointed out that there’s 650 people in South Australia currently training to be a doctor and a GP … that means that there is tremendous opportunity, and that’s grown exponentially compared to what it was 15 years ago when I think they quoted a very low number of 28 that were in training, but it shows indeed that there are those people … in our community that are training. We need to ensure that we’ve got encouragement to get them out into regional areas … in some cases it’s because they don’t want to work as hard as their forebears did … whereas once upon a time we had doctors that would serve forever in a community that doesn’t exist anymore so we need to make sure that we’ve got enough out here to ensure that yes you’ve got the skills but you’ve also got the backups and even to give them the odd day off … it’s a Government policy issue, it’s a funding issue, it’s a society issue … last night was a really resounding example of what a community wants the fix to exist. (Williams: … thanks very much.)