A group campaigning for a new hospital to be built in West Gippsland is asking “WTF?” That’s “where’s the funding?”
The “Sick of Waiting Action Team” is running the attention-grabbing WTF campaign to put the issue of West Gippsland Hospital’s capacity on the map for this year’s state budget, or failing that, November’s state election.
Retired anaesthetist and group spokesperson Rob Sinnett said the hospital is struggling to cope with the region’s rapid population growth.
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“The hospital is under tremendous pressure,” Mr Sinnett told the Baw Baw Citizen.
“We’ve closed our high dependency unit, we’ve reduced the number of midwifery cases we can have, we have sent patients away for treatment they could have here if we had the facilities.
“Late last year the state government [finished] the business case regarding the future of the West Gippsland Hospital. The results of that haven’t been released yet.
“Essentially, the thing to be decided is whether the hospital will be rebuilt on the existing site, or on the [earmarked] greenfield site.
“On the greenfield site it would take five years, on the existing site 10 years with associated massive disruption so that the hospital will be almost unable to work during that period.
“This is all in the context of a massive population explosion in the area.”
While not part of the campaign, West Gippsland Healthcare Group CEO Dan Weeks agrees the current hospital is no longer able to cope with demand.
“We think the need [for a new hospital is] really urgent,” Mr Weeks told the Baw Baw Citizen.
“There are lots of indicators saying we’re already struggling to cope with the demand, and of course the population is growing.
“We know people on average use the hospital less in Baw Baw than they would use in other parts of Gippsland or Victoria.
“We would expect to treat somewhere about 80 per cent of the people in Baw Baw who need hospitalisation, and we’re running at under 60 per cent.”
A petition has been distributed and a rally some time in the future is a possibility. You can find info on what the group is doing on their Facebook page.
Image: campaigners in Warragul earlier this month.