Finally! A renal dialysis unit for the Hills

22 Jul 2020

Posted February 19, 2019

Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has welcomed Country Health SA's decision to set up renal dialysis beds in the Mount Barker Hospital chemotherapy unit next financial year.

“I have been fighting to secure accessible renal dialysis for Hills residents since winning office in 2016, and rumours have been circulating for some time that the chemo unit at the Mount Barker Hospital was being adapted to include haemodialysis so I am delighted that Country Health SA has announced an interim unit," Rebekha said.

“I have no doubt about the demand for the service so I am confident that Country Health SA will find a way to secure a long-term model for this life-saving treatment."

The State Government has committed $800,000 per annum to fund the interim haemodialysis unit.

The chemotherapy unit at Mount Barker Hospital will be converted into a dual purpose chemotherapy and haemodialysis unit in July 2019, with three chemotherapy chairs converted to dialysis chairs.

Up to 12 patients will be able to receive dialysis treatment thanks to the addition of three dialysis chairs.

Due to this change, chemotherapy and infusion patients will now be able to access services six days per week rather than the three currently offered.

Rebekha said this announcement would go some way towards addressing the growing divide between metropolitan and regional health services in the region.

“Back in early 2017 the local GPs I contacted for data about renal dialysis demand advised me there were at least 12 patients making nearly 1900 trips to Adelaide every year to access dialysis," Rebekha said.

"That number is expected to grow over the coming years as the population in the Mount Barker region increases rapidly.

“These trips for life-saving treatment have a profound impact on the families who must grapple with the physical, emotional and financial burden of travelling to and from metropolitan dialysis services, with many patients not eligible for the Patient Assistance Transport Scheme”

“The addition of three dialysis chairs at the Mount Barker Hospital means that up to 12 patients will now have access to local dialysis.

“This is fantastic news but we cannot rest. We need to make sure that we future-proof our health services, and the next priority is the upgrade of the Mount Barker Hospital Emergency Department.”

SA-BEST MLC and health spokesperson, Connie Bonaros, said today’s announcement was great news for the people of the broader Mount Barker region.

“Dialysis services in Mount Barker Hospital will save Hills patients hundreds of trips to Adelaide each year and ease the pressure on the major metropolitan hospitals,” Connie said

“Last year SA-BEST joined forces with Rebekha to up the ante with the State Government to commit to this crucial service.

“We specifically asked the Health Minister a question in Parliament – after Rebekha's letters to him fell on deaf ears.

“The announcement is a great testament to Rebekha’s tenacity and commitment to her community.

“Over 12,000 Australians require dialysis to treat chronic kidney disease, and we know that many people in the Hills community will benefit from the dialysis service in Mount Barker when it is finally operational.

“We know that when patients are treated in their own communities, the health outcomes are so much better – let alone a saving on the health budget – so this is a great outcome.”

You can read Rebekha's recent adjournment speech in Federal Parliament on health services in Mayo here and you can watch here.

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