The Country Health Taskforce has presented to the South Australian Government its discussion paper outlining key ideas for reforms to the regional heath care system.
Upon the request of SA Health Minister John Hill, the taskforce prepared the paper building on submissions received through the consultation period.
The recommendations brought up by the taskforce included undertaking additional public consultation, improving transport for better access to health services, and helping smaller country hospitals retain staff and services.
“The Government has listened to what country people have said in relation to smaller country hospitals and provided a commitment that no hospital will be closed and no hospital will lose its emergency services,’’ Mr Hill said.
He told ABC that the SA Government would reiterate the revising process until it was confident that the new plan effectively addressed issues identified by the taskforce and the community.
“So this is…a long time process of consultation and discussion but that’s what people say they want and we’re happy to comply,” he said.
The paper was released after a one-week delay, as the taskforce wanted more time to consider thousands of public submissions.
Taskforce chairman Peter Blacker told ABC that the recommendations would help refine the existing health care plan for the rural communities.
“Our report will certainly be accepting the good parts of the old plan, if you want to put it that way, and making recommendations of how to proceed forward from there, in particular in relation to the 43 to 45 hospitals that were in the smaller category,” Mr Blacker said.
“I think if we take all of the issues and recommendations that we’ve put in there for debate, then I think a good package can be brought together."
Mr Hill said upgrades to major country hospitals at Whlyalla, Port Lincoln, Berri and Mount Gambier would commence immediately, with the rest of the plan pending on the taskforce’s findings.
Country Health SA will now draft a revised plan, working with local health advisory councils and the taskforce.
The draft plan will then be released for public comment.
The taskforce report can be found at www.countryhealthsa.sa.gov.au.
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