$6.7 million investment in emergency services at Mount Barker Hospital

$6.7 million investment in emergency services at Mount Barker Hospital

Today’s announcement that the Mount Barker Hospital will have a full-time doctor on site ahead of a multi-million dollar expansion of emergency department services is a huge win for the Hills community, says Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie.

“I welcome the State Government’s $6.7 million investment in the hospital’s emergency services over four years but it comes as no surprise to me that the recent overnight doctor trial at the hospital – which I successfully advocated for – has proven its worth,” Rebekha said.

“The feedback I have received from the community and medical staff is that having a doctor on site between 10pm and 7am has made an enormous difference to the quality of patient care in the hospital, and the well-being of our community.


- Fast facts available at end of page -


“With Mount Barker one of the fastest growing regional centres in Australia, with a catchment of more than 70,000 people already, we need a doctor available in the emergency department day and night.

“Not having access to a doctor late at night and on weekends was one of the most common complaints I received during last year’s election campaign.

“With no-one else taking up the political fight on behalf of my community, I felt I had to advocate strongly on this issue, even if the hospital is funded by the State Government.

“I could see no reason why the Adelaide Hills community shouldn’t have the same access to emergency services in their local hospital that residents in Gawler or Victor Harbor enjoy.

“Babies with croup, children with sporting injuries and adults with non-life threatening medical conditions should be able to go to their local hospital for treatment, not be forced to travel into the city to wait for hours in a major metropolitan hospital.

“Of course, patients with life threatening conditions such as stroke or major road trauma will continue to be sent to the specialist hospitals such as Flinders or the Royal Adelaide but a permanent, 24-hour emergency service is well and truly needed and I thank Health Minister Jack Snelling for recognising the growing needs of our community.”

About 450 people presented for emergency care at the hospital during the three-month trial which provided a doctor on site between the hours of 10pm and 7am.

The State Government investment expands that service, committing $859,000 next financial year so a local GP service and the hospital can provide a doctor on site and extra resources to offer emergency care 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

The service will then go to open tender with the successful medical business expected to provide emergency care at the hospital in the following years.

“The Government has set aside nearly $6 million over three years to fund the service, improve training, upgrade equipment and increase staffing levels so Mount Barker can treat more complex conditions and the community has the same level of emergency care offered on the South Coast and in the north,” Rebekha said.

“Gawler Hospital, which has an emergency department managed by a local GP service, had 15,000 presentations last year and often has two doctors on at peak times.

“Given our growing population, Mt Barker Hospital could soon face the same pressures so easing the demand on metropolitan hospitals is a sound decision.

“However, I would like to remind people that patients with life-threatening conditions such as stroke, heart attack or major road trauma will continue to be transferred to specialist units at Flinders and the Royal Adelaide.

“Please call an ambulance in an emergency or if you need some advice call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222.”

Fast facts

  • Prior to the overnight doctor trial, local GPs provided an “on call” emergency care response after 10pm at night, resulting in many people being directed to metropolitan hospitals.

  • Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie says not having access to a doctor for emergency care after hours was one of the biggest complaints she received from residents in the Mount Barker and surrounding districts during the election campaign last year. After election win she made it a priority to meet with the State Government and advocate strongly for better after hours emergency care.

  • Around 450 people presented for emergency care at Mount Barker Hospital during the hours of 10pm-7am during the three-month trial of having a doctor on site overnight.

  • State Government will invest $6.7 million in Mount Barker Hospital’s emergency services over four years. $859,000 in 2017/18; $1.89 million in 2018/19; $1.949 million in 2019/20; $2.1 million 2020/21.

  • $859,000 set aside in 2017/18 to provide a doctor on site, extra staff and other resources at the emergency department 24-hours a day.

  • Summit Health has discretion to bulk bill patients or charge a gap for medical consults.

  • Government will have open tender process for medical businesses to provide the service in following three financial years. The contract will include a cap on any gap that can be charged.

  • Patients admitted to hospital are treated as public patients and incur no cost.

  • The $5.9 million allocated from 2018/19 to 2020/21 will fund the emergency service, buy extra equipment and improve staff training. For example, the hospital is currently investigating the purchase of more cardiac monitors.

  • Life threatening conditions such as stroke, heart attack and major road trauma will go to Flinders Medical Centre or Royal Adelaide Hospital. Patients with conditions requiring specialists and specialist equipment will be transferred to the most appropriate facility.

  • Mount Barker will be upgraded over three years to treat more complex conditions.

  • No regional hospitals have 24-hour access to X-ray services. South Coast has an on-call service available until 10pm.