Euroa Public Beds
11 February 2015
11 February, 2015
MS RYAN (Euroa) — I raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Health relating to the need for publicly funded hospital beds in Strathbogie shire. I ask the minister to visit the hospital with me to hear the board and the CEO's plea for public beds. There are three hospitals in the Strathbogie shire, and not one is publicly funded. It is the only shire in the state without access to public hospital beds. Instead residents must travel to Shepparton, Benalla or Seymour to access treatment. For the more than 10 000 residents who live in the shire this is about equity and fairness.
Euroa Health is a private, not-for-profit bush nursing hospital. For 87 years it has provided a fantastic health service to local residents, but with no public funding for acute care it can only treat private patients. When one looks at the trend of declining revenue through private health insurance, as a result of the decreasing numbers of people maintaining private health insurance and more restrictive eligibility criteria, it is apparent that services such as Euroa Health will face ongoing financial challenges. This will cause further hardship to many in the local community and stretch emergency departments in the region's hospitals.
Placing public beds at Euroa Health is sound policy on many levels. It would ease pressure on nearby hospitals, minimise the need for ambulance services to transport patients to those hospitals and secure the long-term future of Euroa's health services. Last year, I met with Euroa Health's former CEO, Elena McShane, and the board's chair, Jim Shovelton, to discuss the difficulties facing the hospital. I commend them both and the entire board and hospital staff for the tremendous work they have put in in driving this issue. I supported their push for public beds, and the coalition government subsequently committed to creating a $10 million fund for bush nursing hospitals. This fund would have provided up to 10 publicly funded acute hospital beds in bush nursing hospitals, with two to be immediately allocated to Euroa Health. If the government is unwilling to create such a fund, it could fund the provision of public beds in Euroa by establishing a cooperative partnership with Goulburn Valley Health using existing weighted inlier equivalent separations funding. This arrangement has precedent, having already been established for health services in Ballan and Heyfield.
The need for public beds at Euroa was first raised by my predecessor, Bill Sykes, who took a deputation to see the then Minister for Health, the same health minister who now happens to be the Premier. Prior to the election, a detailed paper outlining the issues and the hospital's request was also provided to Labor. Knowing that the government is familiar with the issues, and knowing the Premier's claim that health is his no. 1 priority, I am incredibly disappointed that the government has not sought to redress this situation. In fact the government is yet to even respond to the hospital's request — —
The DEPUTY SPEAKER — Order! The member's time has expired!