PARLIAMENTARY Secretary for Health Mary-Anne Thomas met with Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child and board members last Wednesday to discuss the plans to upgrade Wonthaggi Hospital to sub-regional status.
Ms Thomas also visited the Church Street site of the proposed health hub in Cowes, and saw Bass Coast Health’s facilities in San Remo.
Board chair Don Paproth and CEO Jan Child said they were both very pleased to have met Ms Thomas to explain to her the efforts that Bass Coast Health is taking towards making Wonthaggi a sub-regional health service.
“It is an exciting time for Bass Coast Health as we build strong foundations of safe patient care whilst progressing with clinical services planning to grow services for our local community,” Mr Paproth said.
The Sub Regional Clinical Services Plan, which was funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, incorporates Bass Coast Health, South Gippsland Hospital and Gippsland Southern Health Service.
While the Clinical Services Plan is being developed and finalised, Bass Coast Health is aligning its codes of practice with guidelines suggested by the Royal Australian College of Surgeons.
This means that in the short term, some services that have previously been available at the hospital have been scaled back.
In the past, the hospital has willingly operated on children under 12 years. This has been ceased until the Clinical Services Plan is completed.
“Bass Coast Health has undertaken a number of reviews over the past months to ensure we are providing the best and safest care to our community,” CEO Jan Child said.
“These reviews have shown a couple of things. Firstly, in some areas of our work, Bass Coast Health has been underperforming, sending too many people to other hospitals for care.
“We have made some short term decisions to attempt to correct these issues.
“Our plan is also to expand the breadth of services available, and this will increase the number of specialists who will serve our community.
“We have excellent local GPs, nurses and allied health staff.
“With these current resources, Bass Coast Health is well equipped to serve low risk surgical and maternity clients.
“Unfortunately we do not meet the state-wide requirements at this point in time to take on higher risk patients.”
Ms Child said that the Clinical Services Plan will outline the capabilities of the hospital, and the steps needed to create a master plan, which will see the Wonthaggi Hospital move from being a rural service to a sub-regional hub.
“Our decisions allow us to ensure we work safely whilst we rebuild our services to best meet local needs,” Ms Child said.
“This service plan will guide us as to which surgical procedures and which specialists we should offer going forward, so that Bass Coast Health can operate as a sub-regional centre.
“Our aim is to grow, but to do so safely.”
All these decisions are short term, with a longer term approach to be determined once the Clinical Services Plan is completed in November or December 2016.