AFTER seven years of campaigning for improved health and medical services, the Phillip Island Medical and Health Action Group (PIMHAG) is pleased to see construction of the new Phillip Island Health and Medical Hub begin.
But the group is under no illusions as to the challenges ahead.
The second stage of the hub will involve allocating health and medical services to the building and with construction expected to be completed by April, PIMHAG has 10 months to campaign for required services for the Phillip Island community.
PIMHAG chairman Peter Paul said the group must now direct its attention to what the second stage of the hub will entail.
“We need to talk about that and that’s the conversation we have to have with the federal minister (Greg Hunt) and find issues based on the data of the clinical services review,” he said.
“What we’re finding from the review and our own community consultations, is very clearly that cardiac is a high priority in this community and oncology.”
Mr Paul said there is no doubt that Phillip Island is growing rapidly in comparison to other areas, and its health services must match the growth.
“The hub has to continue to grow and it will grow in the technology of what we’re getting,” he said.
“It’s going to be a good building and you’ve got to put up-to-date 21st century services in there.”
PIMHAG still awaits the full release of the Sub Regional Clinical Services Plan and will use data from the review and its own community consultations to determine its priorities.
Mr Paul stressed that new and improved health and medical services must be introduced to the Phillip Island hub, so locals are not forced to leave the Island for treatment and appointments.
“We are definitely not about transferring a podiatrist from one building into a better building and claiming that’s a progress in the community,” he said.
“The shifting of one service or transferring of others into a new building; that may be good for them but it doesn’t do the community any good.
“We have to have new services to stop the people turning left.
“Not long ago I was in a cancer clinic down at Moorabbin and there were four people sitting in chairs in the foyer, and they were all from bloody Phillip Island and they were all there for a 15-minute appointment.
“If we had the right services here – an oncology chair and a person to work in there and the proper equipment to hook up – he could see a whole group in a day here and you’re taking 20 people off the roads, they’re treated for 10 minutes, then they’re back to doing what they’re doing.”
In a survey of Phillip Island by PIMHAG, the number one issue was the lack of a 24-hour medical centre, and PIMHAG believes that this should be included in the hub.
In a positive sign for the future of the hub, PIMHAG vice-chairman John Matthews spoke highly of Greg Hunt’s involvement in the plans.
“They have been unbelievably supportive, long before Greg Hunt was Minister for Health,” John said.
“It’s not easy to get a minister on side for an issue, but right from day one Greg has attended 25 to 30 per cent of all our meetings and he’s always got one of his advisors there.
“We’ve been more than impressed with the effort that he has put in and his commitment, because he totally understands what the community needs here.”