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    Wimmera Base Hospital.

Staff promote Wimmera and Ballarat health merger idea

The entire September 15, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

Health-service staff members across the region have spoken out strongly about potential benefits of a new western Victorian body created by an agency merger.

They have outlined thoughts on a Care For Our Region website merger partners are using to promote the concept.

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A proposed new ‘Grampians’ health entity, which has polarised public opinion, involves Wimmera collective Stawell Regional Health, Wimmera Health Care Group and Edenhope and District Memorial Hospital merging with Ballarat Health Services.

Christine Gunn, who has worked for the past 11 years as health information manager at Wimmera Health Care Group; Michael Kirby, on secondment from Ballarat to cover a clinical and residential care services director role at Stawell Regional Health; and Edenhope and District Memorial Hospital after-hours and clinical training co-ordinator Sue Roberts all put forward their views on the website.

Mrs Gunn said she believed there was a lot of opportunity for the health services to work together. 

“Working at a smaller health service  you often work alone and might not be aware of a better way of doing something,” she said.

“One of the benefits I see of coming together is having the opportunity to confer and consult with others in a similar position.

“We will be linking all our resources. It’s been happening for a long time anyway through various partnerships like the Grampians Rural Health Alliance, regional meetings and committees. But this will formalise it and ensure it’s not just for particular areas but the overarching organisation. 

“We often look to Ballarat in terms of best practice, we contact them and ask questions to get support. This will make it more seamless, processes will be more consistent and it will provide support for the participating regional hospitals who are sometimes lacking in resources or skills. 

“For staff in the smaller health services there will more opportunities for them to learn from the best, to upskill to a higher level, just by being in contact with them you will learn.” 

Mr Kirby said he saw his role as an opportunity to hone his skills in a different area and support Stawell in a fixed-term position that could be difficult to fill.

“I’ve been here for six weeks and it’s been a breath of fresh air to work in a new environment,” he said.

“I have really noticed how prominent the community focus is and the impact it has in all decisions made around the community.

“It’s a very exciting time to be here as we explore the new opportunities that coming together could present. 

“I’m in a great position as I’ve been able to experience health care across the region, not just in Ballarat.” 

Training benefits

Mrs Roberts, working at Edenhope hospital for almost 20 years, devotes two days a week to her clinical-training role, where she works with Wimmera Health Care Group to implement and develop training programs.

“A single health service offers infinite possibilities – it’s very exciting,” she said.

“As part of the Grampians regional educator group I’ve seen the amazing amount of knowledge, experience and skills that are in the region that we can tap into.”

The views are in stark contradiction to others across the region who remain opposed to the merger, believing such a development, if involving Ballarat, would erode or impede services and Wimmera development opportunities.

Other Wimmera-Mallee health agencies, West Wimmera Health Service and Rural Northwest Health, are not part of merger plans.

People can put forward their views on the proposed merger online at