Treasurer discusses regional health funds

Discussion: South Australian state treasurer Tom Koutsantonis at a recent press conference.
Discussion: South Australian state treasurer Tom Koutsantonis at a recent press conference.

The State Treasurer has argued against claims that a record investment in health infrastructure in the 2017-18 State Budget fails to address improvements to ageing facilities across the state's regions.

Tom Koutsantonis labelled the new Royal Adelaide Hospital the “largest regional hospital” in South Australia.

The Treasurer defended state government’s funding into regional health, saying the new RAH is the hospital of choice for people who suffer traumas in regional communities.

“We’ve deliberately invested in making sure that regional communities will have access through evacuation,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“Busy hospitals save lives. The more procedures doctors do, the better they are at it, so if we have lots of regional hospitals dealing with lots of traumas, they’re not as experienced as hubs.

“This is not my view, this is the medical profession’s view.”

There was good news for residents of Mount Barker and surrounds, with the Treasurer announcing funding of $800,000 in 2017-18 for a 24-hour on-site emergency doctor at the Mount Barker District Soldiers' Memorial Hospital.

Mount Barker was the only regional hospital to secure funding in the 2017-18 state budget.

Mr Koutsantontis said state government has no plans to close any regional hospitals, despite calling the new $2.8 billion hospital on Port Road the primary hospital for all South Australians.

“The real question is, why is it that someone in the regional community shouldn’t get the same level of care as someone in metropolitan Adelaide?” he said.

“The most important thing is the quality of care … we can’t deliver that in a cost effective way at multiple sights.”

In delivering his fourth budget, Mr Koutsantonis touted the government's $1.1 billion investment, which included continued modernisation of suburban hospitals.

"We believe in public health, and we're investing in public health infrastructure," he said.

"(That includes) investing heavily in our suburban hospitals."

New projects totalled $16.9m - all based in the metropolitan region.

​"The Lyell McEwin, Flinders, Modbury and Mount Barker hospitals will also benefit from a combined $71.9m in upgrades to infrastructure and services," Mr Koutsantonis said.

However, of about 82 hospitals and health services outside of Adelaide, no other provider received funding

Mr Koutsantonis urged local health groups to “turn up” and submit more proposals to be considered for funding.

"If they have more presentations and people turning up and it's a public hospital they will get more funding.”