THE State Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy, was well aware of the elephant in the room at the opening of the $6.5 million Phillip Island Health Hub last Saturday.
While the day was mostly about celebrating the opening of that stellar, new facility in Church Street Cowes, several of the speakers, including the Bass Coast Mayor Cr Pam Rothfield and Bass Coast Health Chairman Don Paproth highlighted the dire need for a new hospital at Wonthaggi.
“It’s not often you’ve got two health ministers in the same room, so I’ve brought a copy of our advocacy strategy,” said Cr Rothfield, handing out a folder to both the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt and State Minister for Health Jill Hennessy.
Not surprisingly, the development of a new sub-regional hospital at Wonthaggi is number one on the list.
Mr Paproth fired several shots over the State Government’s bows while hosting the event.
“…we’re providing wonderful service to this region and when we get our new hospital, we’ll be doing even better,” he said.
Their calls were backed up by needs too when a mechanic at the V8 Supercars event at the Island’s GP Track was taken to the Wonthaggi Hospital with a broken arm.
But there was something of a mixed message from Minister Hennessy when speaking to the Sentinel-Times after the opening event where Wonthaggi hospital is concerned.
Asked what the community has to do to get a new sub-regional standard hospital built at Wonthaggi, Minister Hennessy said her government was both committed to a staged upgrade of services at Wonthaggi while also working through the process of planning the development of a new hospital.
“We have been doing the Bass Coast Service Planning to see what additional services are needed at Wonthaggi,” Ms Hennessy said.
“And we’ll be staging our budget requests to fund each stage.
“We are absolutely committed to improving every aspect of health services in Bass Coast,” she said, while also encouraging the hospital administration to go through the process of hopefully developing a new hospital for Wonthaggi.
So, it’s a yes from the Minister to a steady build-up of services at Wonthaggi but the funding of a new hospital isn’t over the line yet.
With the electorate of Bass listed as a front-line target for Labor in the November 24, 2018 state election, getting both sides of politics to commit to building a new hospital here will be the key.