Minister for Health, Jack Snelling, visited Millicent Hospital as part of his South East trip yesterday (March 13).
He was in the region to open the redevelopment of the Mount Gambier hospital. The hospital redevelopment will bring great benefits to the Mount Gambier community, not only in terms of improved health services, but also for the State’s economy.
WattleRangeNow asked the minister if the reason for his visit was the on-going situation between Country Health SA and the Millicent Medical Clinic contract negotiations.
The Minister told WattleRangeNow that it was an opportunity to visit the Millicent Hospital while he was in the region.
Mr Snelling holds the office as Minister for Health and Aging, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Minister for Defense Industries and Minister for Veteran’s Affairs. He was first appointed to the Labor Ministry on March 25, 2010. His other portfolio responsibilities have included Treasury, Science and Information Economy and Road Safety.
Since taking over the Health portfolio, he announced that he will be cutting the Health budget because it’s growth has significantly outweighed revenue. He told WattleRangeNow, that he will rein in the expenditure of the Health budget.
Mr Snelling said that he intended to target savings within the system and hoped to improve productivity as a priority to cut health spending.
WattleRangeNow asked the Minister if, according to a recent quote by the ABC, he would “become an axe-man” to meet a health savings of almost $1 billion over the next four years.
The Minister replied that he may be able to meet savings just by making the system work more efficiently, and it might not necessarily mean making any cuts at all. “It might mean productivity improvements that we can get in the workforce,” he said.
The Minister went on to say that “we can’t allow health to continue to consume a greater proportion of the budget and have to constantly cut back on other parts of government because health has to constantly expand.”
When asked if the current situation between the Country Health SA and the Millicent Medical Clinic was part of the expenditure cuts, and would it mean any loss of services at the hospital, the Minister had no official comment but said that there were “no plans” to make any great changes to Millicent Hospital services.