By Michael Giles

CUTS to the health budget by the Commonwealth Government and the emphasis by successive state government’s on major infrastructure spending in Melbourne has put undue pressure on Victoria’s finances and the public health sector, particularly in rural areas.
Right across the state, hospitals are hurting, not only with hard-pressed staff struggling to deliver a quality service in poor facilities, but also as a result of the squeeze on day-to-day operations in growing areas like Bass Coast.
The government and the department is well aware of what’s required at Wonthaggi – the complete redevelopment of the hospital as a sub-regional centre to provide for a huge area south of the Strzelecki Ranges, a physical and distance barrier not well understood
in Melbourne.
A major report commissioned by the department, completed several years ago, makes this clear.
The report, like many others, is now gathering dust.
The problem is that successive governments have failed to keep pace with the demand for replacement and improvement of infrastructure and places like Warragul, the home of the West Gippsland Hospital, are equally deserving of a major funding boost.
Giving Wonthaggi and Warragul money for a new hospital isn’t sexy. It won’t swing an election. Both state seats of Narracan and Bass are considered ‘safe’ for the Coalition but neither side has so far put up the money.
What happens, however, when you concentrate on big ticket items such as the East-West Link and the Melbourne Metro Rail Project, is that it sucks money out of ordinary, everyday requirements and we’re seeing the fallout at the Wonthaggi hospital where stress levels are at an all-time high.
What staff at the hospital need, and this also goes for everyone at the senior campus of the Wonthaggi Secondary College – is hope!
The State Government needs to spell out its long-term plan for the future and both those projects should be on that list.
In the meantime, the hospital, its CEO Veronica Jamison and staff need to know they have the full support of the community in making the most of the situation and they could take a leaf out of the Wonthaggi Secondary College’s book in that regard.