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Member for MacKillop takes hometown fight to State Parliament

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Member for MacKillop, Mitch Willams MP

Member for MacKillop, Mitch Willams MP

Prepared by S Lowe 5 THE FM/wattlerangenow.com.au

Member for MacKillop Mitch Williams MP addressed State Parliament today about the loss of hospital services in his hometown of Millicent and right across his electorate. Country Health SA advised the  public this month that obstetric services would no longer be available from the Millicent Hospital. All women in labour, from as far away as Kingston, Robe, Beachport, Southend, Penola, Furner, Millicent and the whole Wattle Range District will need to travel to Mt Gambier to deliver their babies.

A Public Meeting will be held on Wednesday 31st July at 7 pm, at the Civic and Arts Centre Millicent.  The meeting will give the community a chance to hear how many services have been lost and why.  Invited guests will address the meeting and there will be time for questions and suggestions from the audience.

The meeting is aimed at -   ‘Saving our hospital services’.  Obstetrics is the latest hospital service to be cut from Millicent and there will be a focus on saving this before it is too late.  Other services also lost are dialysis, chemo, gastroenterology, physio, reduced nursing staff, reduced midwives and reduced funding for mental health.

Mayor Peter Gandolfi Wattle Range Council has invited Mr Jack Snelling Health Minister, Mr Rob Lucas Shadow Minister for Health, representatives from CHSA and Australian Nurses Federation to attend and address the meeting.    People from across the Wattle Range Region and further afield are expected to attend. Mr Gandolfi will chair the meeting.

Posters and Petitions can be collected  from local community radio station 5THE FM 31 Railway Tce Millicent.  The radio station is also the delivery point for all petitions. These will be tabled in Parliament.   For further information please call 8733 4077 0r 0400 290 664.

Mr Williams address to Parliament was provided to WattleRangeNow this afternoon and follows in full.

Mr WILLIAMS (MacKillop) (15:38):

Today, I rise to bring to the attention of the house the disturbing outcomes with regard to the delivery of health services in my electorate.
We all know what has happened in the Keith area, in the north of my electorate, over the last couple of years because of the government’s withdrawal of funds from that community’s hospital. Now I want to bring to the attention of the house what is happening in the south of my electorate, in my home town of Millicent, where there is to be a serious downgrade of services if Country Health SA is allowed to get away with the proposal.
Country Health SA has been in negotiations with the doctors of the Millicent medical clinic for at least two years. Similar negotiations have been ongoing in other parts of the state. Those negotiations have been quite protracted in some parts of the state; Millicent is one of those places, and Victor Harbor is another, which I am sure members are aware of.
The stumbling block in the negotiations seems to be Country Health insisting on the doctors in the clinic providing a certain number of hours of on-call duty to provide service in the local hospital. Because of the requirement that the doctors in the clinic to provide for their own clinic, it means that only a certain number of hours are available—and doctors these days also like to enjoy some sort of work-life balance, which seems to be the buzz phrase around these days. Unlike years ago when doctors committed themselves to a community 24/7, 365 days a year, that just does not happen in today’s world.
The most disturbing thing that has happened in Millicent is the proposal to shift the birthing unit at the Millicent Hospital completely to Mount Gambier. Over a period of years, there has been a move to shift expectant mothers to Mount Gambier if there is any sign the birth might be risky, including mothers who are having their first child where there is no history of their ability to deliver a normal delivery. They are automatically shifted to Mount Gambier. As a consequence, the number of births occurring in the Millicent Hospital has dropped from about 110 a couple of years ago.
Before that, it was over 200 but that has dropped back to about 35 in the last year.
Rumours have been around for about a month now about the possibility of the birthing unit in the Millicent Hospital being moved. As recently as late June, early July Country Health has been denying those rumours and has been saying quite publicly that there is no move to downgrade the services, yet there now has been revealed through a leaked letter that the acting head of Country Health, Acting Chief Officer, Dr Peter Chapman, wrote a letter on 12 June, and I will quote from the letter:
Further to my correspondence dated 31 May 2013 and our meeting held on Thursday 6 June 2013, I confirm the following expectations…
He went on to say under the heading of ‘Obstetric services’:
Due to local workforce shortages, obstetric services will in future be offered from the Mount Gambier District Health Services.
Back in late May, early June the decision had already been taken to shift the service to Mount Gambier, yet right up until the end of June the Country Health Service had been denying that to the local community. Not only that, but more recently after the announcement about a week ago, Country Health has said that they will continue the antenatal and postnatal services at the Millicent Hospital. Again, I believe that my local community are being deceived because, without a birthing unit, it will not be possible to continue to provide those postnatal and antenatal services simply because we will not have the doctors or nurses with the relevant skills available to deliver those services.
Country Health has failed this community in my electorate at Millicent miserably. What they should have been doing over the last couple of years is ensuring that we had the GPs in the local community, in the local clinic, with the relevant skills to provide the suite of services that the community deserves.
I am very afraid that there is an agenda within Country Health to close down the acute services in my local hospital at Millicent.
I am very afraid that this is furthering the work of Country Health in diminishing the role of acute hospitals throughout regional South Australia.
The official poster and petitions.

The official poster and petitions.

5 thoughts on “Member for MacKillop takes hometown fight to State Parliament

  1. Maybe someone needs to remind Mitch that he actually LIVES in Mount Burr which is a totally different post code……. just another case of a pollie jumping on the bandwagon to gain brownie points from the local constituents in the lead up to the Election.

    • Omg do you even know how far mount burr is from millicent …. Not even 5mins so he is speaking for his electorate! Millicent hospital services ALL the surrounding towns … So who cares if he lives in mount burr hes sticking up for our area!

    • And mt burrs local health services are in millicent!

    • And mt burrs health services are in millicent!

  2. So the facts that Mitch’s own children were born in Millicent and he went to school th ere means he can’t call it his hometown and be concerned for the community. Grumpy by name and nature.
    At the end of the day it is all about saving country services which the city people have rights to but smaller communities don’t when they are the lifeblood of the country.

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