Health emergency

The accident and emergency (A&E) services at Gumeracha District Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital closed indefinitely in July 2021.

Given the length of time the Gumeracha emergency department (ED) has been closed, it’s understandable that locals want action.
The department was supposed to close only temporarily because of the pandemic, but local doctors have since said it will remain closed indefinitely because there are not enough staff for it to be reopened.
The community has been without an ED for two years, a situation which could create unnecessary risks for northern Hills residents who have to travel over half an hour along winding roads to the nearest ED at Modbury.
This extra distance could be crucial for emergency patients for whom every minute could be a matter of life or death. It also could put more pressure on our extremely under-resourced Hills ambulance service.
More than 2500 people have signed an online petition calling for the reopening of the department.
The community has spoken loud and clear – it wants its ED back.
According to local doctors, the key barrier to this happening is the fact that it’s difficult to attract new GPs because of a Federal funding model which disadvantages the area.
While some stakeholders have proposed other solutions, such as the use of locum doctors to staff the service, there is something to be said for being cared for in hospital by a local doctor who knows the area and knows you personally.
It is welcome news that the State Government has backed local GPs’ calls for a reclassification of Gumeracha’s funding tier.
But it’s clearly not enough.
The State Government says it has lobbied its Federal counterpart on the issue, but it appears not to have worked – at least not yet.
It’s important that the State Government doesn’t give up and allow the issue to fall into the background.
Representatives from both the Labor and Liberal parties have promised to work on a solution to help reopen the ED.
It’s vital that we see follow through on the promises made by whichever party leads the State after next month’s election.