Maintaining Euroa Health’s vital service

Adjournment speech

Tania MAXWELL (Northern Victoria) (20:47): (2038)

My adjournment is for the Minister for Health (Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas MP), and the action I seek is for the minister to support the survival of Euroa Health and bring the hospital under the public health umbrella.

Euroa Health Incorporated was established in 1927 as a community bush nursing hospital. As a small rural healthcare provider, Euroa Health has grown from six beds to a 22-bed fully accredited acute facility, a 75-bed
aged care facility, an urgent care centre and a community service centre.

While the service does not operate as a public entity, its community status excludes it from government funding provided to other comparable public regional hospitals.

The 22-bed fully accredited acute service provides vital support to Goulburn Valley Health (GV Health) and the Strathbogie shire’s 11,455 residents. It provides valuable stepped care to patients who do not need to be treated at
a large regional hospital but still require hospital care. It supports the safe recovery of patients as they transition, close to home and their community, before they are discharged.

A social analysis of the town and wider region demonstrates why Euroa Health operates as a public service and does not attract many patients with private health insurance.

The population is aging, and the rates of chronic illness are higher and the levels of social disadvantage greater than the state average.

The sustainability of what have been known as bush nursing hospitals has been precarious for years, and this has been further exacerbated by the pandemic.

The future of Euroa Health is under threat, and losing this local health service would gut the community and place strain on larger hospitals and our ambulance service.

Bringing the hospital under the umbrella of the public system would be a big change for the community and one that might be difficult for them, but it is a much better option than closure.

It would enable the hospital to access more equitable funding and, I believe, help their wonderful staff to provide better service to their community as a result. There are other smaller hospitals in my electorate
that are public hospitals—Alexandra, Rushworth and Kilmore are just three of the many—so I hope that gives some comfort to the Euroa community that regional hospitals are important and can survive.

Euroa Health provides around 3800 bed days each year to support the community and our health system. This is certainly not the time to be losing a hospital. On the day that I visited Euroa Health recently there
were 16 patients admitted who, if this hospital did not survive, would need to be placed at GV Health.

I hope the government will deliver a lifeline to Euroa Health and create a stronger plan to transition to public management or provide a suitable alternative that ensures the sustainability of this incredible
health service.