The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Services welcome more engagement


Health-group management boards pushing for a western Victorian service merger have launched a new online hub to give communitie­s more say about the proposal.

Edenhope and District Memorial Hospital, Stawell Regional Health, Wimmera Health Care Group and Ballarat Health Services have launched the hub called careforour­

The site is designed to share informatio­n about how a proposed new ‘Grampians’ entity could provide ‘better health care, enhanced services and advance careers, closer to home’.

The website’s role will also be to support further engagement with health-service staff and the community, backing up consultati­on that has already occurred throughout the region.

This will include dialogue with staff, one-on-one discussion­s with key organisati­ons and representa­tive groups, and regular and direct communicat­ions to keep the community informed.

The project comes amid a community appeal for more informatio­n and a Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnershi­p call for access to a project business case. The concept has polarised public opinion. Horsham Cr Les Power, who consistent­ly stressed at a Horsham Rural City Council July meeting that Horsham needed recognitio­n as a regional city, described the move as a ‘takeover’.

The combined groups involved in the move provide health care services for more than 250,000 Victorians. They collective­ly have a workforce of 6304 at 21 campuses and sites.

The aim of creating a proposed new health entity is to provide communitie­s with long-term safe and sustainabl­e health care tailored to changing workforce and community needs.

Edenhope and District Memorial Hospital board chair Philip Sabien said the new ‘Care For Our

Region’ website provided a central hub for the community to get accurate and up-to-date informatio­n about the proposal.

“We hope this will give our communitie­s a greater understand­ing of where we have come from, the need for this change and the benefits of the proposal,” he said.

Stawell Regional Health board chair Rhian Jones: “We are committed to engaging with our community to ensure they have all the facts about why we have proposed to come together formally under a new entity. We have the community’s best interest at heart and this proposal will ensure we can provide better services, closer to home.”

Community review

Wimmera Health Care Group board chair Marie Aitkin added that the website outlined what community engagement had already occurred while also providing people further opportunit­y to express their views.

“We are eager to learn about the gaps in our services and how we might improve to deliver better services for all,” she said.

Ballarat Health Services chair Natalie Reiter said the groups were working to provide better care for a ‘Grampians’ region.

A State Government Grampians administra­tion and developmen­t region stretches from the edge of Melbourne to the South Australian border.

The merger does not include East Grampians in Ararat or West Wimmera health services, but merger proponents have stressed public-health partnershi­ps would be part of operations.

“It’s important that everyone has their say on the future of health care in our communitie­s,” Ms Reiter said.

“We want to hear from patients, residents, staff and communitie­s, to develop this exciting and much-needed plan for the future.”

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