Elec­tion pledge, to fund more spe­cial­ist health treat­ments at hospi­tal

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY SHANE DOUTHIE sd­outhie@ ne­me­dia.com.au

A $10 MIL­LION elec­tion prom­ise to North­east Health Wan­garatta (NHW) would en­able world-lead­ing spe­cial­ists to treat more pa­tients lo­cally, Premier Daniel An­drews said in Wan­garatta on Mon­day.

The money would come on top of the $22.1

mil­lion the An­drews La­bor Govern­ment has al­ready in­vested in the lo­cal health ser­vice in the last three

years and would fund other ma­jor projects at NHW.

Mr An­drews said the is­sue be­came real to him af­ter one of the last con­ver­sa­tions he had with his fa­ther who was be­ing treated at NHW dur­ing his bat­tle with can­cer be­fore he died.

“My Dad spent so many of his fi­nal days be­tween home and hospi­tal in Melbourne,” he said.

“He never com­plained about hav­ing to travel to Melbourne for spe­cial­ist care. He de­served bet­ter, and so does ev­ery pa­tient in re­gional Vic­to­ria.

“Re­gional Vic­to­ri­ans should never be de­prived of high qual­ity care just be­cause of where they live – and fund­ing more spe­cial­ist ser­vices will en­sure pa­tients will get spe­cialised health­care closer to home.

“There are thou­sands of pa­tients who are away from their fam­i­lies in their dark­est hours hence the rea­son for this fund­ing.

“A re-elected La­bor Govern­ment will make sure lo­cals can ac­cess 9700 more ap­point­ments to see spe­cial­ists for health is­sues such as chronic pain, al­ler­gies or heart con­di­tions over the next four years.

“We will also es­tab­lish a registry for GPs to ac­cess, with in­for­ma­tion about in­di­vid­ual hospi­tal wait lists, so that coun­try pa­tients are seen faster – and closer to home.

NHW chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Mar­garet Ben­nett was ec­static about the ex­tra fund­ing.

“This fund­ing will en­able us to do more than we could with the ex­ist­ing $22 mil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment al­lo­ca­tion,” Ms Ben­nett said.

“The ad­di­tions will in­clude a des­per­ately needed makeover of ma­ter­nity, in­clud­ing more ma­ter­nity beds and a new spe­cial care nurs­ery, and we will also be able to make changes within the emer­gency depart­ment to best sup­port the growth in ac­tiv­ity, ad­di­tional to the new eight bed short stay unit.”

Mr An­drews would not put a date on when the fund­ing would

be made avail­able if he was re-elected but said, like the pre­vi­ous NHW com­mit­ments, his govern­ment “would waste no time” in mak­ing them.

“I love this place (NHW),” Mr An­drews said.

“It was very good to me and my fam­ily like it is to ev­ery fam­ily.

“The best way to thank the hospi­tal for that is to pro­vide money for them.”

Mr An­drews was joined at the Wan­garatta hospi­tal for the an­nounce­ment by Health Min­is­ter Jill Hen­nessey, Ja­clyn Symes

(MLC, North­ern Vic­to­ria) and newly an­nounced can­di­date for Ovens Val­ley Kate Doyle.

He said state-wide new fund­ing would boost ru­ral and re­gional spe­cial­ist med­i­cal ser­vices by an ex­tra 500,000 spe­cial­ist ap­point­ments over four years – in­clud­ing 75,000 ex­tra ap­point­ments for heart con­di­tions, 30,000 ap­point­ments for arthri­tis, 50,000 ap­point­ments for chronic pain and 40,000 ad­di­tional ap­point­ments for pa­tients suf­fer­ing from can­cer.

PHOTO: Shane Douthie

WEL­COME NEWS: A spon­ta­neous round of ap­plause from hospi­tal staff and sup­port­ers when Premier Daniel An­drews an­nounced the $10 mil­lion in fund­ing. Pic­tured at the an­nounce­ment (from left) were Jonathon Green (NHW board), Kate Doyle (La­bor can­di­date for Ovens Val­ley), the premier’s wife Kath An­drews, Premier Daniel An­drews, Health Min­is­ter Jill Hen­nessey and NHW chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Mar­garet Ben­nett.

PHOTO: Shane Douthie

TIMELY AR­RIVAL: New fa­ther Matt Barry (left) and his daugh­ter Si­enna Elise, who was born on Sun­day night, were the cen­tre of at­ten­tion when Premier Daniel An­drews, Health Min­is­ter Jill Hen­nessey and Kath An­drews vis­ited the hospi­tal on Mon­day morn­ing. One of the rea­sons for the ex­tra fund­ing was the in­crease in births at NHW which has grown to more than 700 an­nu­ally. Si­enna’s mother Elise was un­der­stand­ably rest­ing.

PHOTO: Natalie Miller

STARTS IN LAUGHTER: Ja­clyn Symes (MLC, North­ern Vic­to­ria) with Kate Doyle (La­bor can­di­date for Ovens Val­ley) at Ms Doyle’s first press con­fer­ence. The for­mer Yar­ra­wonga res­i­dent over­came any bout of nerves to stress her elec­tion fo­cus which is on health and ed­u­ca­tion.

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