November 15, 2012  |  Adjournment

Kyneton Hospital: ambulatory care centre

I raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Health. It relates to a commitment made by the federal government to make $6.79 million available to Kyneton Hospital to support its plan to build an ambulatory care centre. Despite requiring no funding from the state, the hospital requires the state government to sign off on this project, and I ask the minister to act to do so.

Clearly the hospital’s management was very excited when the federal health minister announced it would contribute $6.79 million to enable the hospital’s management’s plans for this purpose-built ambulatory care centre to be built alongside the hospital and become a reality. This announcement was made by the federal health minister in May last year. Soon after there were discussions between the commonwealth and the state health department. 

My understanding is that an agreement was reached with the state health officials in July last year — 15 months ago — and that the project then needed to go to the minister to be signed off so this significant funding could be made available for a facility that will cost more than $7 million to build.

This facility for ambulatory care will provide not only primary care and GP services but also visiting services, including antenatal, infant audiology, sexual assault counselling and community mental health services all in this one building on the hospital site. Staff at the hospital and people in the community are very excited about the project because it will provide great benefits to the overall community. Recently when asked why this project has not been signed off, the minister simply responded by attacking the federal government over recently announced budget cuts. 

He wanted to engage in some political point-scoring on a recent issue that is not relevant to the issue of the funding of the hospital and has not explained to the Kyneton community why he has not signed off on this project.

If there is a reason the minister has not been able to sign off on it, he should be honest with people in the community and tell them that. Rather than responding with irrelevant political point-scoring, the minister needs to sign off on this project to save it from escalating costs so that it can become a reality sooner rather than later. While the minister is about it, he could explain why he has left two vacancies on the hospital’s board for such a long period. He could explain why he has not agreed to the recommendations of the hospital but has left those two board positions vacant and has not appointed anybody else. He simply does not appear to care about the health needs of those in the Kyneton area.