I READ Lance Milne’s letter (“Source of extra spending unclear”, September 4) with interest but I was extremely disappointed that his ‘‘research’’ was so shallow.
He stated, somewhat joyfully I feel, that his research had led him to discover that four Melbourne hospitals, in a city that has dozens of public hospitals, had found it necessary to close a small percentage of them on temporary basis.
Does he realise that when our hospital was privatised we dropped from 300 beds to less than 150 beds.
This is a PERMANENT closure of in excess of 50 per cent; and we are still having to suffer temporary bed closures at the Mildura Base Hospital.
He highlights the shortage of health funds available but ignores the fact that this is exacerbated by the present arrangements that allow millions of Victorian taxpayers dollars meant for our hospital to be diverted into the pockets of wealthy shareholders based in Sydney.
He dismisses the tyranny of distance factor as unimportant, but again the lack of research told against him.
The average time even for a mercy flight from leaving the Mildura Base Hospital to receiving life saving specialist treatment in Melbourne is about 3.5 to 4 hours.
Even this time does not allow for prepping the patient for the trip, precious time that could have been saved if a specialist were available here, greatly improving the patient’s chances of recovery.
Nor did he dig deep enough to find that even the government of the day, (Kennett’s), acknowledged that the main cause of the shortfall of the old hospital was inadequacies of design and layout.
Indeed this was given as one of their main reasons for building a new facility rather than trying to renovate.
He also seems to believe that because some medical staff do not want to come here, we should just ignore it rather than do everything possible to attract those who are willing to work in rural areas.
However, very few will come here once they find that they will be 20 per cent worse off than at any other public hospital in the state.
Again with a little more research he may have discovered that the medical service provider at the Mildura Base Hospital is not even appointed by the government but by the Motor Traders Association Superannuation Board.
Who would really want to trust their lives in a medical emergency to a car salesman?
Indeed, as you say Mr Lance Milne, there are many challenges in operating a rural hospital and they are best done by facing up to them and fixing the administrative bungle and medically inefficient mess that the Mildura Base Hospital has been allowed to become.
The government must accept its responsibility, reclaim the hospital and provide us with the services to which we are entitled.
Mildura Base Hospital