The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, has thrown down the gauntlet to Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley over the future of the long-overdue new Swan Hill hospital.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Walsh issued a direct invitation to Mr Foley to join him in a visit to the town to see firsthand the worn out, aged facilities with which the region’s frontline medical staff have to try and deliver the best possible care.
He said while medical staff and ancillary services have continued to provide quality medical care; they are not in the hospital they need and definitely not in the facility they and the general public deserve.
“I would like the Health Minister to come to Swan Hill and join me on a tour of the Swan Hill hospital with the members of the Swan Hill Needs a New Hospital committee,” Mr Walsh added.
“As Parliament has heard me say, a number of times, the Swan Hill hospital has passed its use-by date,” Mr Walsh added.
“We have great staff, we have great doctors and we have great nurses, but particularly for the maintenance crews and the cleaning crews the building is actually beyond its best date,” he said.
“So that’s why I have asked the Minister to come up there and actually do a tour with me.
“The Minister quite often comes to Boort for the annual trotting cup, and this year that is on February 28, so I would encourage the minister to come to the trots and then we will fit in his tour at Swan Hill – it’s only an hour up the road,” he said.
“I know the Swan Hill Needs a New Hospital committee and I would love to show Mr Foley around; and point out what is needed there with a new hospital, particularly with the emergency department – which is desperately in need of an upgrade.”
Mr Walsh said the capacity was just not there anymore to do what is needed for the wider Swan Hill community.
He said the Swan Hill hospital services a region with, probably, up to a 150km radius from Swan Hill.
“The Swan Hill hospital, this relic from a bygone era, is effectively a major regional hospital, and as I said, is just is not fit for purpose into the future,” Mr Walsh said.
“So please, Minister for Health, Mr Foley, Martin, come to Swan Hill – I’ll drive you myself if that will help get you there,” he said.
“Yes, Minister, I know Swan Hill is beyond the tram tracks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a pioneer for your government and venture out into the regional seats and do something helpful.
“You name the time and place and I’ll arrange for a good look around the hospital, and if you want to bring the Premier’s chequebook with you; and actually make an announcement, that would be even better.”