Member for Goyder Steven Griffiths MP has today lodged a Freedom of Information request for Regional Impact Assessment Statement (RIAS) documents and details of public consultation undertaken prior to the decision to cease surgical services at Yorketown Hospital, announced last week.
It is State Government policy that all South Australian Government departments, agencies and statutory bodies are required to prepare and publish RIAS statements prior to implementing significant changes to existing Government services in regional areas.
"It is quite clear that a RIAS should have been undertaken, and that Minister for Regional Development Geoff Brock should have made the final recommendation," Mr. Griffiths said.
"The FOI request ledoged today seeks a copy of the RIAS study taken, a copy of materials circulated within the local community as part of any public consultation taken on the decision, and a copy of communications between the Health Minister Jack Snelling (and SA Health) and Minister Brock.
"The decision to cease up to 60 surgery procedures a year at Yorketown Hospital represents a significant service change, and with these services to be transferred to Wallaroo Hospital, an hour and a half drive away, will come at considerable impact to residents of southern Yorke Peninsula.
"I wrote to Minister Snelling on 24 February as soon as I heard about the service downgrade and haven't yet had a response. With the changes set to commence soon (from 1st April) I requested a briefing, including full details of the decision to transfer the general surgery, gynaecology and urology services.
I also expressed by disappointment to the Minister that the first I heard of the service change was from the chair of the local health advisory committee, not directly from SA Health," Mr. Griffiths said.
"I share the concerns of Dr. Kokar as expressed in his letter to YP Country Times last week, that this decision appears to be about a lack of government investment, not skilled staff. Dollars should never get in the way of good health services in the regions."