Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Cohuna hospital support vital

Community members have rallied to show their support for the Cohuna District Hospital and the services it offered.

REBECCA KERR August 18, 2014 3:33am

Communities surrounding Cohuna have rallied together to present a petition with 2800 signatures and nearly 200 letters of support for rural health services to Member for Rodney Paul Weller.

Peter Barker has expressed public concerns in recent weeks when Cohuna District Hospital started exploring the idea of cutting theatre use by 16 weeks a year, to reduce costs.

He sent a letter out for publication last month, encouraging locals to write letters of support of rural services to Mr Weller to present in parliament this week.

Dr Barker said he was impressed by the response as the petition was only available for eight days.

‘‘We’ve got close to 3000 signatures and nearly 200 letters, which is amazing when you think that this all happened in eight days,’’ he said.

Mr Weller said the number of responses showed the importance hospitals played in a community.

‘‘It highlights how important rural health services are to the community,’’ he said.

‘‘We want to make sure Cohuna hospital has funding sustainability to continue to deliver the services they have been.

‘‘I want to see everyone in my district receive the right level of health services and for the Cohuna hospital to continue providing the services the community need.’’

Cohuna District Hospital chief executive William Hall said small rural hospitals had been operating on the same block-funding model for the last 10 years even though external costs had increased and was in discussion with doctors, service providers and other stakeholders.

‘‘We have to ask what can we do with the services we’ve got, given the fixed funding we have and what can we do to work smarter together and be more innovative about reducing costs,’’ he said.

He understood Dr Barker’s frustration and commended his efforts as each year the hospital asked more from its doctors while running on about an $400,000 deficit budget.

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