Healthy decision

The promise of expanded after-hours emergency services at the Mt Barker hospital is a great development for the Hills community.
With Mt Barker expected to become the State’s biggest city outside Adelaide within a decade, the region certainly is experiencing growing pains on a number of levels – including health services.
The recent overnight doctor trial, which saw about 450 patients present to the hospital after-hours in three months, is clear evidence that the State Government’s funding pledge announced on Tuesday is a worthy investment.
Since the trial was introduced in March, both of the major State political parties have taken a renewed interest in the Mt Barker hospital – and that has only benefited the growing community.
It could be argued that the increasing interest in the region from the State Government is a result of a changing political climate in the Hills, which has historically been home to several safe Liberal seats – at both Federal and State level.
It’s barely 12 months since the safe Liberal seat of Mayo was taken by the NXT Party, yet this week we have witnessed the electorate’s new representative achieve what the former member deemed impossible.
Hills voters proved that they were willing to shake up the status quo when they elected Rebekha Sharkie, and both Liberal and Labor are taking notice.
Ms Sharkie has played a leading role in bringing the hospital’s after-hours service to the region, which is testament to what having a more independent member – and a more marginal seat – can achieve on a local level.
But regardless of the possible politics at play, the increase in hospital funding is a win for local residents.
The hospital’s former system was no longer working, with most minor ailments being referred to city hospitals overnight.
With a catchment area of about 70,000 people, the hospital’s new after-hours service will be well used – saving thousands of people long trips to the city in the middle of the night.
The Mt Barker region is a dynamic and changing area and it’s positive to see a renewed interest in the area on both a State and Federal level. With a State election due early next year it will be interesting to see whether Mt Barker’s growing pains will attract further political promises.