Such has been the outcry of community concern it is expected the Yorketown Town Hall will be filled for tomorrow night's public meeting convened in response to the shock announcement that general surgery, gynaecology and urology surgical services are to soon cease at Yorketown Hospital.
I still await responses from Minister for Health Jack Snelling to correspondence requesting a briefing on the decision and its implications (sent 24 February, and again on 16 March, 21 March and 3 April) - this also despite raising the issue in Parliament on 29 March during Question Time and again on 30 March in a Grieves speech.
However, I can advise I have today received an email in response to my invitation (sent 22 March) for him to attend the 20 April public meeting to hear the community concerns firsthand. Unfortunately, the Minister advises he is "unable to attend due to a previous commitment and sends his sincere apologies and best wishes".
The Minister's office confirmed that Dr Peter Joyner and Mr Roger Kirchner from SA Health would be attending the meeting as his representatives.
I advise the following people have been confirmed as guest speakers for tomorrow night's meeting:
- Yorketown GP Dr George Kokar
- Shadow Minister for Health Stephen Wade MLC
- Myself (also as MC)
- Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey MP
- Yorke Peninsula Council Mayor Ray Agnew
- Family First's Robert Brokenshire MLC
- Rural Doctors Workforce Agency Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lyn Poole
- Regional Director Yorke & Northern Region Country Health SA Mr Roger Kirchner.
FOI DETERMINATION: "NO DOCUMENTS"
In response to related FOI requests I lodged on 7 March, I advise a determination from PIRSA has been received today.
The FOI application specifically sought the following:
"Details of all documents/communications relevant to the decision taken by SA Health/Country Health SA to implement changes to surgical services provided at Yorketown Hospital, including:
- A copy of the Regional Impact Assessment Study undertaken (as per the State Government's policy of a RIAS being required when major government decisions are being contemplated or developed);
- If a RIAS was not undertaken, a copy of the Minister for Regional Development's decision, or that of the Department, to waive the preparation of a RIAS (as per page 5 of the RIAS policy document);
- A copy of communications between the Health Minister Jack Snelling (or SA Health/CHSA) and Minister for Regional Development Geoff Brock on the decision to change surgical services at the Yorketown Hospital -- including any recommendation of Minister Brock or PIRSA/Regions SA to SA Health/CHSA"
The determination received today states that no documents have been located within the scope.
We still await the FOI determination from Country Health SA.
It is also noted that an invitation was sent to Minister Brock to attend tomorrow night's public meeting but no reply has been received.
A Petition has been prepared for circulation and will be available for signing at tomorrow's meeting.
Its wording is as follows:
To the Honourable the Members of the House of Assembly in Parliament assembled -
The Petition of the undersigned residents of South Australia respectfully expresses their strong opposition to the State Government's plan to withdraw surgical services from the Yorketown Hospital.
Your petitioners therefore request that your Honourable House calls on the State Government to: maintain the current range of surgical services at Yorketown Hospital; upgrade and properly resource the infrastructure of Yorketown Hospital to support the continuation of current services; and direct Country Health SA to engage the community of Southern Yorke Peninsula in the planning of its health services before decisions are made, not after
There is much anger in the community that the decision to remove surgical services at Yorketown Hospital was made and announced without community consultation. I believe this injustice was further compounded by SA Health issuing a knee-jerk media release on 10 April (ironically 10 days AFTER the surgery services were to have been removed) inviting local residents to "have their say about surgical services at Yorketown Hospital" by "dropping into Yorketown Hospital to chat with senior hospital staff".
Such offloading of responsibility to local hospital administrators for a decision being made far higher up is just not good enough, and then there is the issue of such short notice being provided for this "consultation" opportunity.
The media release dated 10 April was printed at first and only opportunity in the YP Country Times of 11 April, giving notice for sessions scheduled for 12 April (2pm-4pm); 18 April (2pm-4pm), and 19 April (10am-noon; 6pm-8pm).
I plan to "drop in" for my chat this evening, 19 April.
I reiterate all are welcome to attend the public meeting at Yorketown Town Hall tomorrow night, 20 April. Doors open at 7 pm for a 7.30 pm start.
-Steven Griffiths MP