by S Lowe 5THEFM’s newsonline wattlerangenow
Millicent and surrounding communities ‘save our hospital services’ campaign began twelve months ago. The loss of Obstetric Services has been at the centre of the campaign but this in no way diminishes the other services lost. Among those to be removed from the Milllicent Hospital are chemotherapy, dialysis, physiotherapy, mental health reductions, gastroenterology and a watering down of available services at the hospital with nursing staff cuts.
The removal of Obstetric services severely impacts the overall health care system because it removes additional doctors, including anaesthetists, from the accident and emergency department and general hospital work..
CHSA promised some support staff to be provided from Mt Gambier Hospital, but this has not been sustained.
Doctors are forced to send patients to the Mt Gambier Hospital because of the reduction in hospital staffing by Country Health SA (CHSA). Under these circumstances, Millicent Hospital is fast becoming a transfer station with doctors assessing and referring because the hospital is not staffed sufficiently to provide a safe service.
During this campaign, it has been suggested that the Minister for Health, Jack Snelling, may not have been made aware of the true situation in regional South East of SA.
To ensure that the Minister was adequately informed, a member of the community met with Minister Snelling recently to inform him of the dire situation developing in the health care system and the community’s concerns the Millicent Hospital is being downgraded with no view to increase or re-instate services.The Minister said he had no ulterior reason for removing Obstetrics from the Millicent Hospital and if staffing could be arranged he would be happy to reinstate the service; staffing levels being dependent on the Medical Clinic Millicent.
Doctors from the local Clinic have gone on record saying that they will cover shifts they believe are possible with current clinic staffing levels and have asked CHSA to provide support staff as needed so that an appropriate and safe level of health care can be sustained.
Minister Snelling agreed to provide a written statement after this meeting, verifying his position, but it has not been received at the time of posting this report.
Wattle Range Mayor Peter Gandolfi added his voice to the cause this week, with a letter to the Minister for Health Jack Snelling, requesting an explanation for the recent downgrading of staff at the Millicent Hospital and possible plans for further reductions.
He requested clarification on what he believed is CHSA plans to cut a Casualty Nurse at weekends, reduction of one nurse on the morning shift, removal of administrative position on weekends, the resignation of two midwives, nurses refusing to work extra shifts because they are already overworked, and doctors forced to refer patients to Mt Gambier because of the lack of nurses on duty. Midwives are not rostered on the three shifts agreed to by CHSA, and elective Caesareans have been stopped even when Specialist Obstetricians believe it is safe.
Millicent Hospital has lost many services in recent years and most, perhaps all, have been without public consultation.
Members of the community can continue to write letters to Members of Parliament, and continue to send ‘save our hospital services’ postcards to the Premier.