New hospital, same issues?

Concerns have been raised again this week over a number of problems facing the Wagga Base Hospital and its ability to cope with the demands of the community.

Two stories told through the pages of The Daily Advertiser related to quite different problems but at the end of the day, showed just how much the health system continues to struggle.

The first told of a woman who has twice been booked in for a procedure that the hospital has subsequently cancelled.

The other related to another elderly woman who endured a 10-hour wait at the hospital, her family eventually giving up and taking her home having not seen a doctor.

There is no other way to describe this sort of “service” – it is disgraceful.

While the first matter related to an elective surgery procedure and hospital management said it had to be pushed back due to “... other emergency cases” – it is simply not good enough.

As the community waits patiently for the refurbishment of the region’s major referral hospital, it is reasonable to again ask the question whether or not the new facility will be able to cope with demand.

This situation is only likely to be exacerbated as more people turn to the public system with private health insurance beyond the reach of many.

The federal government hasn’t helped on that front, and while there may have been some need for reform on the eligibility criteria for people to claim the 30 per cent taxpayer-funded rebate, it appears they may have cut too close to the bone and this will result in fewer people taking up private insurance and therefore, a greater reliance on the already stretched public system.

And forget the statistics and lies peddled by the government over this issue – there may be more people with private health insurance, but as a percentage of the population it is a battle private insurers are losing.

As far as the Riverina is concerned, we can only hope that the redeveloped Base Hospital will have the necessary staffing levels to give the residents of this region the level of service they not only deserve, but are entitled to.

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