Minister for Health Martin Foley must categorically rule out merging Portland District Health with another health service, Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell says.
Ms Britnell said recent board appointments and a government health service plan indicate that there is an amalgamation agenda at play.
She said the Andrews Labor Government’s design, service and infrastructure plan for Victoria’s health system showed the Government was planning to move to a centralised health system.
“The government has denied that is the case, but it’s in black and white in that report. now we see local people being sidelined from these important local leadership positions in favour of people from outside the region,” she said.
“It’s my fear there is another agenda at play here. The Government has appointed people to the board that have no connection to the hospital or the Portland community.
“This is a deliberate tactic – the Government knows if it has a board with no long term links to the hospital or the community, it will be easier to make significant changes to services.
“The Government knows locals would never allow a merger or cuts to services to take place because they understand what a detrimental impact that could have on the community they then had to continue being a member of.
“The Andrews Government can say there are no plans to merge PDH – but plans change quickly. The Minister must categorically rule out any merger for Portland District Health.
“If the Andrews Labor Government announce a merger, I will fight hard against it. Mergers and centralisation of health services is not something that I will ever support.”
Ms Britnell said Portland District Health is a unique, servicing a population base of 19,700 within the Glenelg Shire region and approximately 12,000 living in and immediately around Portland. This includes communities that are over an hour’s drive from Portland and could be considered remote.
“The geography presents a unique set of challenges that require a different level of understanding and I fear that will be lost when the majority of the board are not from the Portland area.” she said.
“Our regional health services already work hand in glove with each other already to ensure local people have the best care available to them.
“The Andrews Labor Government should be looking at enhancing what is already happening locally through increased funding and support, not moving by stealth to merge and amalgamate.”