Hospital call

Work on building a 16-bed emergency department at the Mt Barker hospital is expected to begin later this year.

As the Hills community continues to grow, the Mt Barker Hospital is being put under more and more pressure to cater for the needs of the region.

The Federal and State governments have aimed to address this via a multi-million dollar investment in a new Emergency Department.

But while this development is, by all means, a good start, community leaders and politicians have made it clear that the new ED won’t be enough to adequately address the growing needs of the Hills community.

The population of Mt Barker and its surrounds is expected to grow dramatically over the next decade, eventually becoming SA’s second largest city and the Local Health Network says the number of hospital beds and treatment spaces will need to more than double to keep up.

The region doesn’t need piecemeal additions that happen only after the breaking point is reached.
We need an overall plan that ensures we never reach crisis point.

The call this week by Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie, Kavel MP Dan Cregan and Mayor Ferguson for a $100 million investment into a new hospital is sensible given ED presentations in Mt Barker have increased from 12,000 in 2018 to 19,000 in 2020.

The Government’s new ED is expected to cater for around 22,000 presentations a year … only three thousand more than the number of presentations recorded just two years ago.

This is worrying for the Hills community and should be worrying for the State Government as well – a sound health system is crucial, especially in an era dominated by the pandemic.

While it would be nice to have a new basketball stadium in the city, as proposed by the Liberal State Government, a properly funded, efficient hospital that is large enough to cater for the region’s growth is likely to be a much higher priority for most Hills residents.

Meanwhile, Labor has made several health commitments in other regions around SA, but not yet for the Hills. With the State election fast approaching it’s a good time for all sides of politics to put the needs of the Hills first and foremost.