Gloves are off: Fight is on to return Mildura Base Hospital to public hands

Mildura Hospital Conversation Inc members Greg Milner, Jo Rodda, Noel Pound and Michael Pound want Mildura Base Hospital to return to public management. Picture: Louise Barker

Mildura Hospital Conversation Inc members Greg Milner, Jo Rodda, Noel Pound and Michael Pound want Mildura Base Hospital to return to public management. Picture: Louise Barker

A COMMUNITY group says it is ­“demanding, not asking” for Mildura Base Hospital to be ­returned to public management.

Mildura Hospital Conversation Inc (MHC) yesterday said it would organise public meetings in Mildura in the lead-up to the state election to put pressure on the State Government to take responsibility for management of the hospital.

The fledgling committee’s president Noel Pound started a Facebook discussion page about the hospital because of his disappointment about the treatment his late wife Cheryl received at Mil­dura Base four years ago.

Mr Pound said the group had become increasingly concerned about the feedback it received about the hospital’s management from former staff and patients.

He said hospital staff and interns reported feeling “overloaded” and that patients found the hospital’s formal complaints process too stressful to proceed with.

Mr Pound said his group was not aligned to a particular party and its members had varying political views.

“We are prepared to put this issue ahead of other stuff – it’s too important,” he said.

"We’ll get support from wherever we can.”

Ramsay Health Care has a contract to manage the hospital until 2020, with an option for the deal to be extended until 2022.

Yesterday, the hospital’s community advisory board chair Gayle Danson said she would support the extension of Ramsay’s contract “if we continue on the same path that we are pursuing at the moment”.

“I have confidence in what’s happening in the way the hospital is being run,” Ms Danson said.

“I would always encourage people to go through the processes and lodge a complaint if they had issues with the way they receive services.”

Ms Danson said the community advisory board received regular reports on the hospital’s performance and monitored issues raised by patients.

“I get to see any complaints that are lodged on a monthly basis, how they are dealt with and then we track – if they’re systemic issues – how the executive team are responding to them,” she said.

“I understand, when people go to hospital, not everyone gets a happy outcome and that is common across the whole hospital system.”

MHC vice-president Greg Milner called for the contract to be torn up, even before its 2020 expiry date.

“There is no middle ground here – it’s demanding, it’s not asking,” he said.

“This is just the start, this is not the finish. We need to be able to fire up the politicians to see what the need is and to rectify it.”

Former state election candidate Jo Rodda, who was previously involved with the Reclaim the Base lobby group, has taken on the secretary’s role with the new committee.

“The (Facebook) page is not about berating the staff in the hospital in any way – it’s about giving people a voice with a view to improving the services we have,” Ms Rodda said.

“There needs to be a political will to change it and we believe this is the time to change it.”

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