SA Health weighing up future of Balaklava operating theatre

SURGICAL services at Balaklava Hospital are in limbo pending an SA Health review.
Surgery lists at Balaklava were suspended on Monday, December 9, and will remain so until the end of March.
Scheduled surgeries in Balaklava have been shifted to Clare Hospital.
Currently, two visiting specialists (orthopaedics and plastic surgeons) conduct two theatre lists per month, averaging three to four cases each.
Balaklava-based GP, Dr Tom Lemon, said he had limited knowledge about why the service was suspended.
“I’ve only heard whispers, no formal communication from the health department,” he said.
“I think the reason behind it is the theatre needs to be brought up to new standards and the department is weighing up whether it spends the money to do so.
“I’m presuming it’s just a cost issue which is the significant sticking point.”
Dr Lemon and other local health professionals assist surgeons with anaesthetics on surgical rosters.
He felt losing surgical services in Balaklava would be a blow to the wider community.
“I think in the long term, it would be to the detriment of everyone,” Dr Lemon said.
“The hospital would become largely a nursing home with fewer opportunities to practice the more acute services.
“Once you de-skill a facility, you don’t tend to get it back, plus you lose all that experience if staff leave.
“I think the service here is still more than viable.
“It’s still a growing community, we’ve got a lot of retirees moving into the town and a lot of the time, having these sorts of health services contribute to making that decision.
Dr Lemon said maintaining surgical services in smaller, active hospitals made sense.
“In a perfect world, decentralisation would be a good idea as it would take pressure off the larger hospitals,” he said.
Yorke and Northern Local Health Network CEO, Roger Kirchner, said a complete review is under way to determine the future service delivery options.
“Nursing staff from Bal