CATHERINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
JULIE COLLINS MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGEING AND MENTAL HEALTH
MEMBER FOR FRANKLIN
LABOR CANDIDATE FOR GILMORE
LABOR WILL UPGRADE SHOALHAVEN HOSPITAL
Under a Shorten Labor Government Shoalhaven Hospital will receive a $35 million funding boost for a dedicated mental health unit and expanded outpatient services.
This election is a choice between Labor’s plan for better hospitals or bigger tax loopholes for the top end of town under the Liberals.
Shoalhaven Hospital provides vital services to Nowra and across the Shoalhaven region. But despite the hard work of staff, the hospital’s cramped and ageing infrastructure severely limits the volume and quality of services it can provide.
Official NSW Government data shows that at Shoalhaven Hospital, more than 1 in 3 people don’t receive emergency department treatment on time, and 1,500 people are languishing on the waiting list for elective surgery.
A year ago, Shadow Health Minister Catherine King and Labor Candidate for Gilmore Fiona Phillips hosted a crisis meeting with hospital clinicians and staff.
These front-line experts made clear that the lack of investment in Shoalhaven Hospital is undermining their ability to provide safe and effective care.
Labor wrote to the NSW Health Minister about this crisis and welcomed the bipartisan commitment to redevelop the Hospital ahead of the NSW election.
But the Liberals are yet to deliver this funding, or to detail the facilities and services that will be included.
That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will commit $35 million to build two new facilities that are crucial to the Shoalhaven Hospital Master Plan:
- A Mental Health Unit: It is estimated around four million Australians aged 16 to 85 experience mental ill health. This represents about 20 per cent of adults. ABS figures last year revealed 3,128 Australians died by suicide in 2017 – an increase of 262 deaths from the previous year. But Shoalhaven Hospital lacks inpatient mental health beds to adequately treat those in need. Bed shortages often force people with severe mental health conditions to travel to Shellharbour or Wollongong for care – or miss out altogether. In addition, the future of the current sub-acute unit in the hospital redevelopment is unclear, with fears step up / step down services could be lost. Labor’s commitment will build a stand-alone Mental Health Unit that includes acute, sub-acute and outreach services, and encourages contemporary models of care – ensuring people on the NSW South Coast have the same access to mental health care as people in Sydney.
- A Rehabilitation and Ambulatory Care Centre: Feedback from clinicians suggests that one of the priorities for the hospital’s redevelopment should be facilities for outpatient (non-admitted) care. Consistent with the Master Plan, Labor’s investment will build a stand-alone Ambulatory Care Centre that combines specialist consultation and treatment rooms, pre- and post-discharge clinics, rehabilitation facilities, community allied health, and other ambulatory services. Labor’s investment will decrease outpatient waiting times and reduce pressure on other parts of the hospital.
Labor will consult with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and the NSW Government on the design and construction of these facilities.
This investment in Shoalhaven Hospital is part of Labor’s $2.8 billion Better Hospitals Fund.
“Fiona Phillips has fought tirelessly for Shoalhaven Hospital, and Labor can afford to fund this critical upgrade because we are making multinationals pay their fair share and closing unfair tax loopholes,” said King.
In contrast, while he was Treasurer Scott Morrison cut from health and hospitals in every Budget he delivered.
“Scott Morrison and the Liberals and Nationals have already cut $1.7 million from Shoalhaven Hospital – equivalent to over 2,500 emergency department visits or over 4,000 outpatient appointments. And now they’re trying to lock in even bigger cuts for the next five years,” said King.
Labor Candidate for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips welcomed the announcements.
“Locals know how much we need this upgrade. Only Labor can be trusted to fix our local hospitals.
“Labor knows there’s nothing more important than your health.
“As a local, I’ll always fight for better health care,” said Ms Phillips.
MONDAY, 29 APRIL 2019