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EDITORIAL: Ongoing engagement essential

The old saying that goes something like, ‘the proof will be in the pudding’ will certainly apply to a new over-arching body responsible for looking after the health needs of much of the Wimmera.

Grampians Health, the result of a merger between Wimmera, Stawell, Edenhope – and notably – Ballarat health-service organisations, is up and running amid a wave of official assurances and promises.

Leaders of the new agency have declared communities holding the service to account as fundamental in getting the regional-health formula right and communities must accept this invitation.

The process has been about strengthening Wimmera services via a formal conduit with Ballarat, which in turn is closer to Melbourne and its centralised oomph, to build overall scope, capacity and workforce longevity in a regional setting.

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It’s been a big call and has ran into fierce opposition – so much so that it has occurred despite the absence of a clear community mandate. 

Much of the anxiety and fear surrounding the concept is based on the experience and economic blunting of years of government-service rationalisation.

There is also a sense of a desire for our part of the world to be economically and socially strong enough to advance under its own steam and be good enough to, as our old Wimmera  slogan suggests, provide ‘everything we need’.

To some it represents a regional failure in autonomous consolidation or development that can only be regressive. 

To others at the crux of the move it reflects a productive annex of service and specialist opportunities and is progressive.

Now it has happened, we wait for the proof in the pudding, or in other words,  if the project works and meets Wimmera expectations of the ‘recipe’ and ‘tastes good’.

Critically, the move cannot be about simply maintaining the standards of health-service provision and other circumstances such as workforce and contractor arrangements we now have at our disposal. It is designed to dramatically improve them. If it doesn’t, the exercise will have been pointless.

As communities we must stay in tune and help provide direction to always improve what we have – not just in the next couple of years, but throughout the next decade and beyond.

Having high-quality health services is more than just providing support for injured, ill or vulnerable people. 

It represents the bedrock of a community and determines whether regions thrive or fade.

Let’s keep the microscope on the subject.


RELATED: New Grampians Health management board adamant on hospital health promise

The entire November 3, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!