Steven on ABC radio: Yorketown Hospital decision

Tuesday 27 June 2017
Steven on ABC radio: Yorketown Hospital decision

Radio transcript ABC North & West this morning, presenter Paul Culliver speaks with Steven on the relocation of surgical services from Yorketown Hospital to Wallaroo: 

Steven Griffiths, Liberal MP for Goyder   (ABC NORTH & WEST 8.42-8.47)   Relocation of surgical services from Yorketown Hospital to Wallaroo

(Culliver:  Steven Griffiths is the Member for Goyder, which covers both Yorketown and Wallaroo ... does this decision make sense?) Oh look I gotta tell you it guts me Paul and I don’t know how else to describe it while being polite.  I grew up at Yorketown, I lived there for 25 years ... left when I was 33.  My mum was a nurse at the Yorketown Hospital.  It’s as though it’s connected to my DNA.  I know the hospital’s not going to close, I know it will continue to provide A&E and other procedures for people, particularly colonoscopies but I’m really concerned where any loss of a service is somehow considered to be a nick in the armour and it potentially exposes it in the future.  So that’s why I and the community have fought so hard over the last five months to try and make sure that Yorketown has the opportunity to retain those services ... we’re really disappointed with the announcement made by Country Health yesterday.  (Culliver:  What are you worried this decision exposes?) What the future might be ... I listened to Guy Maddern ... he rang me yesterday ... I understand his argument that he puts to me but then he talks about ‘too hard to retain services’ and that’s the key; we’ve had these services available for a long time, why indeed is the loss?  I think the loss is two-fold.  It’s about the dollars required for the surgery upgrade ... that’s about a quarter of a million dollars and the Liberal Party’s committed to fund that, but important also – and this is for all regional hospitals across all of South Australia – is the loss of those precise skills that we need and the challenge to actually try and recruit those in.  So that’s where the political fix needs to come about to ensure that there are measures in place to get good young doctors out into regional areas that have the skill sets so that communities can continue to still receive those services, that full range.  (Culliver:  My understanding of the situation is that there is not the high enough volume of surgeries happening at Yorketown, which means that even if you did have someone highly skilled there they’re not keeping up with their routine and skills and so it actually poses a higher risk to patients that would be getting the surgeries there.) And Paul I don’t want to do anything that poses a risk either ... but there is the opportunity for people to be transportable, to move around to different either surgeries in different regional hospitals and to do the work instead of just removing that facility ... I’m desperate indeed to try and find an outcome to this.  I’m frustrated that we had 600 people at Yorketown for a public meeting in late April not listened to.  We had a petition of 2,049 signatures presented to the Parliament about three weeks ago, that’s not been listened to either and instead, you know, clinicians have made a decision.  Yes, they say it’s about safety, I understand ... but why can’t we do everything possible within a large budget to ensure that regional people don’t have to continue to travel.  It’s okay if you live at Yorketown, they talk about the hour, but if you live at ... Innes National Park or Marion Bay that’s an extra 50 minutes on top ... just over two hours to drive to Wallaroo for a procedure, whereas you traditionally always got your services at Yorketown.  (Culliver:  There’s obviously a lot of emotion in this issue and I think we’ve seen that with the community response but you’ve got the community I guess on the whole saying one thing versus the experts in charge saying a different thing, how are you meant to balance that?) It’s about resources provided ... community demands have to be met by the political system.  The political system has to ensure that the State Budget provides the resources required to do what it needs to do.  It’s challenging, it’s not easy, I understand that ... priorities need to be determined but I want to make sure that the regional community that I live, that I’m part of ... we have 30,000 people that live in Goyder why do we deserve any less?  Why do we have to travel?  And I understand Wallaroo’s a good hospital but in bed numbers it’s no larger than Yorketown.  It does provide a wider variety of services because of the regional focus that it has, absolutely, but let’s make Wallaroo and Yorketown strong and not just concentrate services in Wallaroo.  (Culliver:  Would you reverse this decision if you got into Government?) Stephen Wade, the Shadow Minister for Health, at the Yorketown public meeting committed to the money necessary to upgrade the surgery facility.  He also understands, and Rowan Ramsey the Federal Member has been brought into this also, that from a political perspective at the two levels of government, Federal and State, there needs to be policy directives that ensures that overseas trained doctors, whoever, but indeed doctors that are looking for provider numbers need to have to practice in regional areas to ensure that they’re able to actually have transportability then of their services.  So it’ll be a challenging time ... I know there’ll be some that might consider this unfair on skilled professionals but skilled professionals [unclear] service communities too; communities need a service no matter where they’re located.  (Culliver:  Steven Griffiths thanks for your time this morning.) Thank you Paul.  (Culliver:  Steven Griffiths it the Member for Goyder which does include Yorketown and Wallaroo, the two hospitals affected by these changes.)