Promise to mend regional health

The state Liberal party is promising to give more financial power to regional health advisory councils by giving them back control of their trust funds if elected next March.

In a speech in state parliament late last month, addressing the recent regional health services inquiry, Member for Flinders Peter Treloar said the Liberals would also address the maintenance backlog in regional hospitals.

The inquiry was referred to the Social Development Committee last year, and its final report, which included 49 recommendations, was tabled in parliament last month.

A number of Eyre Peninsula health advisory councils (HACs) made submissions to the review, raising concerns about the lack of financial information being shared by Country Health SA, HACs having little control of the funds they raised and the difficulty and costs of getting simple maintenance tasks completed.

Mr Treloar said of the $1.1 billion health spend in the 2017-18 state budget “not a single dollar” was allocated for capital investment in country hospitals or health services. 

He said country people were “crying out” for community-raised money to go toward resourcing buildings, equipment and research in regional areas. 

“If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal government will fix the backlog in country capital works by ensuring that all money raised in local communities is spent in those communities,” Mr Treloar said.

He said the Liberals would “urgently” address high-risk repairs and maintenance in country hospitals and would implement a country capital works renewal strategy to address the maintenance backlog and “plan positively for future development”. 

Mr Treloar said a Liberal state government would also develop arrangements to retain part of the private patient income in local hospitals for the benefit of local services.

He said under the proposed changes, HACs would be empowered to control their trust funds, which would protect private donations and bequests and ensure locally raised funds were available to meet local needs. 

“They (country people) have been so involved in the building, development and provision of country health services in their townships, and they feel that the government has walked away from them,” Mr Treloar said.