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    Grampians Health chief executive Dale Fraser.

Grampians Health chief outlines future goals

By Jessica Grimble

A single regional surgery wait list, new maternity models and increased mental health support are among a long list of Grampians Health’s future aspirations for its Wimmera campuses. 

The health service includes consideration of future capital needs, targeted initiatives for aged care, formalised links and advice relating to intensive care and emergency medicine, and increasing capacity of community services among its future commitments for the region.

Grampians Health is the result of the amalgamation of Wimmera Health Care Group, Edenhope and District Memorial Hospital, Stawell Regional Health and Ballarat Health Services in November. 

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Its ‘Six Months On’ report, released last week, details its progress towards healthcare, wellbeing and economic outcomes and forecasts future deliverables. 

Grampians Health chief executive Dale Fraser told The Weekly Advertiser that capital projects such as a redevelopment of the urgent care centre at Edenhope, which is underway; and considering the future needs of the Wimmera Base Hospital including its theatre, emergency department, nursing home and training spaces were critical. 

“Our goal and aim for all sites is that the facilities are sufficient and create an environment for staff and patients to receive great, supportive care,” he said. 

“These jobs take a long time to get going – to get funding bodies, ministers, governments to support and invest in our service. 

“We would like to come out in the next few months and expand on what the goals specifically are. The accommodation development in Horsham, where we have seen a need to act quickly, is an example of what we can do when we work together.” 

Mr Fraser said a single surgery waiting list would distribute demand across available locations – including Horsham, Nhill, Ararat, Stawell, Maryborough, Daylesford and Ballarat. It is part of a regional surgery framework that will include more locally-placed surgeons in Horsham, greater sustainability of anaesthetics in Horsham and Stawell, and roving specialist surgery teams to Horsham and Stawell from Ballarat. 

Regional network

“The surgical framework aims to create a network whereby all surgical centres in the region – not just those of Grampians Health – are part of a service fabric. This means no matter where you’re from, you have a number of different choices and can make an informed choice about your surgery,” Mr Fraser said. 

“It makes better use of existing resources within the region.” 

Mr Fraser said a regional response actioning recommendations from the Royal Commission into mental health would include more specialist services across the Grampians, youth prevention and recovery care, an alcohol and other drugs crisis hub, integrated and inclusive psychiatric services and expanded community mental health capability. 

A Hospital Outreach Post-Suicidal Engagement program, HOPE, will expand in the Wimmera and provide ongoing treatment and prevention to people who have attempted to take their own life. 

“Suicide is a tragic event for all concerned. Many people who attempt suicide don’t get the follow-up care they need,” Mr Fraser said. 

He said future advocacy would consider lobbying for mental health beds in Horsham. 

“We are doing a piece of work to identify service gaps to do more work with ‘the missing middle’ – that being, individuals who are not at the severe end and not at the primary care end of mental health,” he said. 

“These are the folk with mild to moderate conditions and it’s important they have access to care without having to navigate a complex system. 

“Our role is to work with various other partners to ensure there is a seamlessness between what we provide and what the needs are, so people don’t fall through the gaps.” 

Refurbishment of a Wimmera antenatal clinic is underway and a midwifery maternity model, offering expectant mothers a single-point of contact throughout their pregnancy, will continue. 

Mr Fraser said there would be no reduction in maternity services in Horsham. 

“We want to increase capacity in Horsham over time,” he said. 

The Six Months On report provides updates relating to the five benefits the health service proposed through its amalgamation: Increasing local community access to services; building the strength and capacity of each health service; creating opportunities for the workforce; delivering a more effective health system; and building community trust and engagement in local services. People can view the report online at

• If you, or someone you know, needs help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Connection key ‘six months on’

The entire June 22, 2022 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!