Victoria’s Liberal-Nationals Coalition is calling on residents across the state to oppose a State Government plan to amalgamate local hospitals.

Concerned Nationals leader, Peter Walsh was in Sunraysia this week urging Sunraysia residents to fight the proposal.

His visit coincided with the launch of the Liberal-Nationals’ ‘Hands Off Our Hospitals’ petition.

“We have launched our ‘Hands off our hospitals’ campaign – a website for people to log onto to and register a protest about what is effectively going to be the amalgamation of a lot of hospitals around Victoria so that they will fall under the control of the major regional city hospitals,” Mr Walsh said.

“For north-west Victoria it means Echuca, Swanhill, Robinvale, Mildura and Mallee Track will ultimately become under the control of Bendigo Base Hospital.”

“Far from delivering better services, hospital mergers mean longer waiting lists, loss of local control, increased travel to get the treatment you deserve and local job losses,” Mr Walsh warned.

“For towns like Mildura, Warrnambool or Bairnsdale, which are located hours from the next nearest health service, it couldn’t be more important to have a stand-alone local service that’s focused on delivering quality care to its community.”

Mr Walsh said that the ‘Hands Off Our Hospitals’ petition comes in response to a growing push to amalgamate services under a ‘formal partnership approach’.

“Hospitals at Mildura, Warrnambool, Horsham, Wangaratta, Echuca, Wonthaggi and Bairnsdale are among those to be targeted by the plan,” he said.

According to the Coalition, this will see health services at Geelong, Ballarat, Traralgon, Albury Wodonga, Shepparton and Bendigo appointed as lead organisations above smaller hospitals in what the State Government is trying to sell as ‘Regional Area Health Partnerships’.

Mr Walsh said that far from being an equal partnership, health services fear it is designed to simplify the process of sweeping amalgamations in the future.

“To stop the plan, the Victorian Liberal Nationals have launched the ‘Hands off our Hospitals’ campaign, to give Victorians who do not want to see amalgamations go ahead a voice,” he said.

“Together we can send a clear message to the government that communities do not want Daniel Andrews to take the ‘local’ out of local hospitals by creating mega-hospitals controlled by inner-city bureaucrats.”

Mr Walsh encouraged people to sign the petition at www.handsoffourhospitals.com.au.

Base Hospital refutes Walsh claims

Meanwhile, in a statement issued this week, Mildura Base Public Hospital (MBPH) strongly refuted all claims made by Mr Walsh about a proposed amalgamation with Bendigo Health.

Mary Rydberg, chair of the MBPH Board of Management said: “At no stage, pre or post-transition has any discussion, either between the health services, or with Minister Foley or the Department of Heath regarding any amalgamations been held or insinuated.”

“These claims are unfounded and the community in no way should be alarmed by such political positioning.
“In fact as we have demonstrated since transition, we are focussed totally on delivering care and connecting with the communities we serve. We have been open and transparent and will continue to do so, and on that basis I assure everyone we will not be amalgamating.”