The Weatherill Labor Government is closing Millicent Hospital’s obstetric unit despite assuring locals only last month services were not at risk.
Shadow Health Minister Rob Lucas said although the Millicent community was repeatedly told last month services at the hospital would not be cut the decision was made following a meeting with the Australian Medical Association (AMASA) in late May.
In a leaked letter dated 12 June, Acting Country Health SA CEO Dr Peter Chapman told the AMASA:
“Due to local workforce shortages, obstetric services will in future be offered from Mount Gambier District Health Services.”
At a council meeting in Millicent on June 11, Country Health SA Regional Director Jayne Downs said:
“There is no plan to let services diminish in Millicent.”
In the South East Times on June 24, a Country Health spokesperson reinforced public perception the obstetric unit was not at risk:
“Women with low risk births continue to birth at Millicent (while) women with high risk births continue to birth at Mount Gambier Hospital.”
However, a Country Health statement, released on Tuesday night, confirmed the Labor Government’s plan to close the obstetric unit, as outlined in the leaked letter.
Mr Lucas said this was yet another broken promise by the Weatherill Government.
“Clearly, the Weatherill Government has misled the Millicent community, who are rightly very upset,” said Mr Lucas.
“Minister Snelling needs to explain why the Labor Government was reassuring the Millicent community the obstetric unit would remain open whilst at the same time secretly planning for it to be closed.
“Furthermore, if the decision to close the obstetric unit was made on June 12, why did the Labor Government wait nearly a whole month to announce it?
“Minister Snelling also needs to come clean and indicate what savings the Labor Government will make from its decision to close the obstetric unit.”