• Tina Treloar

MEDIA RELEASE Mersey Community Hospital’s long-term security vital for Devonport community


8 September 2016

Devonport’s community leaders have joined forced in voicing their concerns about the Mersey Community Hospital’s future.

What the Mayor of Devonport, Alderman Steve Martin had to say:

“The Mersey Community Hospital (Mersey) provides valuable health services to around 65,000 people and is part of their community and their future.”

“In the recent federal election, the people placed health as one of the community’s highest priorities and voted accordingly. To not take heed of that result could be seen as being very foolish, especially in the case of a long term commitment to financially supporting the Mersey.”

“It is extremely important that the people of Mersey have equity of access to and the costs associated with access to all health services. It is well documented that having health services close to home is pivotal to the health and well-being of a community.

“This should be about people, not political game/gain or budget savings. For far too long has the political powers stuffed around with the health and well-being of our people, they need to get on with providing longevity and surety around the funding of the Mersey!”

“Over the past decade the Mersey has had a roller coaster ride with the Federal Government taking ownership then handing over to the State Government the management. We have had a two 3year Heads of Agreements (HoA), a 1year extension and a current 2 year HoA which concludes 30th June 2017.”

“This current HoA between Minister Ley and Minister Ferguson decreased funding to the Mersey by $2.5mill over the two year period, most likely due to the removal of paediatric services and the downgrade from core services to simply clinical services.”

“The 2015-17 HoA also requires the delivery of palliative care and geriatric support at the Mersey; however, Minister Ferguson has stated that both these services would be new services to the Mersey. Additionally a High Dependency Unit was agreed to be provided, but that has also been altered. Hopefully this confusion will be cleared up and will not impact on current negotiations.”

“To provide certainty and confidence, our community would welcome a minimum of 5 year HoA with further 5year extensions written in. Funding would need to be increased annually in line at least with the ‘Health to GDP Ratio’. Anything less could be seen as another downgrade of the Mersey and a reduction of health services to the North West.”

What the President of the Devonport Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Stacey Sheehan had to say:

Following on from Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley’s comments in the media on Tuesday, 13/9/16 the Devonport Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) is calling on the Minister to confirm the Mersey Hospital will be adequately funded post 2017.

President Stacey Sheehan noted that while the community benefits were obvious, there is also an economic imperative for the city.

"At a time when we are investing so much into infrastructure and services in the CBD it seems counter-intuitive to send mixed signals about the future of our hospital.

Hospitals and schools are at the top of the list when people are deciding where to live, particularly professionals with young families that will educate their children here, work and pay rates and taxes - we need to have these basic services on offer to continue to attract new people to the area, as well as service the local community.

The economic flow on effects from the hospital cannot be underestimated either, similar to the Spirit of Tasmania, it’s not just the entity itself, there are a host of contractors and suppliers, employees and local businesses that would all be affected by any closure.

Ambiguity around such a critical piece of infrastructure at a time when Devonport is trying to capitalise on population growth in our catchment and significant CBD development is unhelpful; the uncertainty is compounded by lack of federal government representation on the NW Coast”.

What the Chairman of the Devonport & Cradle Country Tourism Inc., Debbie Grice had to say:

“From a Tourism perspective, the Mersey is a vital piece of infrastructure with the close proximity to the Port of Devonport (where the Spirit of Tasmania docks) and the Devonport Airport (where QantasLink arrives). It gives our visitors confidence in a safe touring environment, particularly when majority of our visitors are 40+, however, it doesn’t matter what age you are when you need a hospital. It is also a great assurance for our young people travelling around the state.”

“The distance between each major city is too far not to have the Mersey which sits in a catchment area of 65,000 people.”

“From experiencing people staying at the hotel we have on occasion called ambulances to our in-house guests that have been taken to the Mersey which is only a 10 minute ride and they are very thankful that the distance to a facility is only that far when it is an emergency.”

“I would imagine removing this facility would place pressure on the current government to increase the availability of ambulances, as more would be required to travel farther distances, leaving areas dangerously unattended. It would also place pressure on existing hospitals to which at present it appears that they would not be able to cope.”

“The Mersey is vital for our region for both residence and tourism.”

ENDS

For further information please contact:

Alderman Steve Martin Mayor of Devonport Phone: 6424 0523 / 0418 0418 614 781 Email: smartin@devonport.tas.gov.au

Stacey Sheehan President Devonport Chamber of Commerce & Industry Phone: 6420 6000 Mobile: 0417 246 613 Email: stacey.sheehan@collinsre.com.au

Debbie Grice Chairman Devonport & Cradle Country Tourism Inc. Phone: 6424 4922 Email: debbie.grice@alhgroup.com.au

#business #merseyhospital

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