The investment boost will be introduced to Country Health SA’s network of 61 hospitals and 20 aged care facilities in the form of $14 million per year over the next ten years, beginning in the 2018-19 financial year.
With a current annual budget of around $4 million for “minor works and compliance” across the network, Country Health SA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maree Geraghty says they will now spend $18 million per year thanks to the funding boost.
She adds that the funding will make a “real difference” by addressing much needed maintenance needs and providing upgrades that will also boost community confidence in health staff, and boost staff morale.
“Country Health SA’s vision is to be the best rural health service and we are committed to growing better country services close to home for rural and remote South Australians, their carers and families,” Ms Geraghty says.
“The challenge of maintaining 61 hospitals and more than 20 aged care facilities means there is always work to be done, and we will continue to prioritise funding towards urgent projects.”
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill says he is proud to be able to provide this investment in public healthcare and hospitals.
“We know our country hospitals and aged care facilities require ongoing and sometimes substantial updating to ensure high quality services for patients and their families, and this significant boost is a step in the right direction,” he explains.
National peak body for aged care providers, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) has welcomed the $140 million ten-year commitment by the South Australian Government, with CEO Pat Sparrow saying the upgrade to the hospitals and aged care facilities will help to maintain “essential” infrastructure relied on by older Australians accessing aged care services in remote areas.
“These funds are a welcome recognition of the importance of aged care services to older Australians living remotely where social isolation and lack of services can be an impediment to adequate medical and preventative health care,” Ms Sparrow explains.
“This additional funding will help support those living in rural and remote regions to still be able to live in their communities and not have to move to a larger city.”
State Health Minister Peter Malinauskas has also supported the investment, saying the cash injection will “provide a welcome boost” for health services in country communities.
The investment from the South Australian Government also included an upgrade of the Whyalla and Mount Gambier renal dialysis units, with each unit increasing from four to six chairs, as well as upgraded equipment and expanded renal facilities at both town hospitals.