A $150 million country hospital capital works and maintenance backlog would be tackled under the State Liberals’ Investing in Country Health policy.
Liberal candidate for Frome Kendall Jackson is calling for adequate investment in health facilities in Port Pirie, Clare and the Mid North.
She pledged action by the Liberals if they are elected in March next year.
“Hospitals and health facilities play an important role in our towns and throughout regional South Australia, where the Weatherill Labor government’s neglect of country hospitals has left a backlog reported to be in the order of $150 million,” Mrs Jackson said.
“The key health policy – Investing in Country Health – will see more respect of the strong role played by local communities across regional South Australia in supporting hospitals and health facilities.
“Patients in our community are often disadvantaged by distance and challenges in accessing doctor and specialist attraction and retention, but just like their city cousins, they are entitled to fair access to health services.
“The State Liberals acknowledge the need to have a robust network of health care services right across South Australia.
“We are committed to ensuring Frome is part of that focus by addressing the unacceptable capital works and maintenance backlog.”
Opposition health spokesman Stephen Wade said that for too long the government’s ”city-centric approach” had undermined patient care with many country hospitals “run into the ground”.
“Country people have a long tradition of raising funds locally which help meet the health needs of communities, in particular, through buildings, upgrades and equipment,” he said. “In the State Budget handed down by Labor, they made much of $1.1 billion health spending, but there was not one dollar for capital investment in country hospitals.
“The State Liberals will empower Health Advisory Councils to control their trust funds, ensuring local funds meet local needs – protecting private donations and enabling local management of bequests.”
Health MInister Jack Snelling rejected Mrs Jackson’s and Mr Wade’s criticism of the health system.
“Mr Wade should know that hollow statements aren’t a substitute for policy,” he said.
“He needs to put his money where his mouth is.
“In stark contrast to the lazy, fear-mongering Opposition, Labor has invested $820 million in Country Health SA services in 2016-17 and this budget had grown by an additional $40 million in the past four years.”