THE future of surgical services at Balaklava Hospital lies solely with the Yorke and Northern Health Network Board (YNHNB), according to Frome MP, Geoff Brock.
Mr Brock met with State Health Minister, Stephen Wade, last week where Mr Wade revealed he knew nothing about any intention of closing the operating theatre in Balaklava.
Surgery lists in the hospital’s operating theatre have been suspended since late last year, pending a review to be completed by March.
The suspension is due to concerns about the condition of the operating theatre, which reportedly requires an upgrade valued at $1.2 million.
The YNHN board met on February 11, with an update of the Balaklava Hospital on the agenda, but the minutes of that meeting were yet to be published as of yesterday.
Board chair, John Voumard, a lawyer from Jamestown, was contacted but did not return calls before deadline.
He took as chair of the board in December last year.
The Jamestown Hospital’s operating theatre received a $350,000 upgrade in 2017, which included new waiting and patient admission rooms, interior refurbishment, an upgrade to the scrub area and new stainless steel storage racks.
Mr Wade unveiled the new state-of-the-art Jamestown suite, claiming the world-class facility was a welcome addition to the hospital and a reminder of the importance of recognising the hard work of doctors in regional areas.
“The State Government is committed to upgrading regional services to ensure rural communities have access to high quality care closer to home,” he said.
Country Health SA contributed $250,000 towards the Jamestown upgrade, while the Mid North Health Advisory Council contributed about $100,000.
Rural Doctors Association SA treasurer and Clare-based GP, Gerry Considine, said if surgical services are lost in Balaklava, it could impact both GP recruitment and the local economy.
“When you lose services like that, it’s hard to get them back and the flow-on effect is when people go elsewhere for surgery, it hits other businesses too,” Dr Considine said.
“It was something I saw while working on Eyre Peninsula, if a doctor wasn’t working a certain day, people would drive 45 minutes or an hour to see one in the next town and fill their scripts, have lunch and fill their cars with fuel while they were there.”
He added while losing the opportunity to practice specialist skills, such as obstetrics or anaesthetics, in a town wouldn’t stop a GP from moving there, it does make it harder to recruit.
“From a rural GP workforce point of view, the opportunities to perform specialist skills will appeal to a GP looking to move to a certain town, along with the type of town it is and whether it fits their lifestyle,” Dr Considine said.
“I can understand the limitations of the health budget but we want to keep rural towns going, so there has to be a closer look at just how we can support the ongoing provision of these services for patients.”