Speech: Adjournment debate, Portland District Health

My adjournment matter is for the Minister
for Health, and the action I seek is for the minister to publicly release the Hillis report into Portland
District Health.

I have here in my hand a most damning report written in 2020 by Associate Professor
David Hillis, but it has been kept secret by the government.

The report states that the government has not played its part in implementing necessary changes and that the current ad hoc approach is expensive and not viable.

A rural generalist model is more appropriate for Portland and is used successfully both nationally and internationally.

All previous reviews have been ignored by the government, so much so that the report says: It is most strongly recommended that no further reviews be undertaken until the recommendations are
accepted and implemented by the government.

But Portland District Health cannot do it on its own, and the report makes this clear. It needs the
government to take the lead.

Recently seven specialists and five GPs as well as industrial business leaders from Portland went
public to question what is happening.

A public march is being organised for this Friday, rightly, by residents who are concerned.

I have heard from nurses who cannot speak publicly on the issue because they fear for their jobs. As a former nurse with a decent understanding of the health system I can see the modus operandi of the Andrews Labor government to try and lay blame on Portland District Health when it sits squarely with the government, and this report is clear about that.

In no way am I criticising the fantastic staff at the hospital—the nurses, doctors and specialists—whose focus is always on getting the best health outcomes for the people of the Portland region, but it is quite clear that the government is not interested in those same health outcomes and is prepared to leave Portland out on a limb.

I know the government will say that it is hard to attract doctors to the region and that is why there has been a need to utilise locums more often, but workforce planning is an important facet of many of the inquiries and reports I have been involved in in my time in this role.

This government, though, simply has not implemented any of the findings of the many reviews already
held into Portland District Health.

This government does not care about finding solutions to challenges.

The Hillis report clearly states amalgamation is not the answer for Portland, but it seems clear that it
is exactly what the government is intending to do.

There needs to be cooperation between health organisations, sharing of expertise and utilisation of services, but that is very, very different to amalgamation.

The Portland community deserves transparency about the future of its hospital and a guarantee that services will not be closed or amalgamated. I will stand by the people of Portland, and I urge the minister to release the Hillis report and guarantee no services will be lost at Portland District Health, as is the recommendation.

Labor needs to stop ignoring the country and govern for the whole state, border to border.