Hospital rally in Cowes – not a politician in sight
PHILLIP Island’s cry for a hospital to be reinstated was heard loud and clear last Friday when a massive crowd of some 700 concerned residents turned out in force at the Public Hospital rally in Cowes.
Chair of the meeting Greg Price said the group organising the rally was thrilled with the strong support but disappointed no local politicians attended.
Member for Bass Ken Smith, Federal Member for Flinders Greg Hunt and Minister for Health David Davis were all invited to attend the rally but all were a no show with only Mr Hunt having the decency to officially reply and say he was unable to attend.
Mr Price said organisers and the hundreds attending were angry their local politicians didn’t attend.
Member of the Concerned Phillip Island citizens group Jock Mc Kechnie said it was rude and appalling none of the local politicians attended.
Mr McKechnie is urging people to flood Premier Denis Napthine and Minister for Health David Davis with letters of support for a hospital to be established on Phillip Island.
“They mightn’t take notice of one or two letters but they can’t ignore hundreds of letters of support for a hospital,” Mr Mc Kechnie said.
Mr McKechnie said at the end of the meeting on Friday evening at the front of the Cowes Cultural Centre,” We agreed to write to premier Napthine and we will alert him to the absolute indifference shown by our local Member for bass Ken Smith and Health Minister David Davis when they were invited but didn’t attended and their lack of interest in our plight would be pointed out.”
Organisers will now be looking to Premier Dennis Napthine and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan for some input and support.
Mr McKechnie said Phillip Island is experiencing enormous growth, now bordering on 10,000 population, with some 20,000 every weekend of the year and up to 100,000 at peak holiday times and for major events.
Asked whether it would take a tragedy on the Island before there is any action on the hospital front and Mr McKechnie said that is definitely something that people should be considering when writing their letters of support.
“We have a huge problem on the Island with travel with the only access off the Island being the bridge. If for any reason the bridge was blocked or the road off the Island was blocked then there could be real problems in a medical emergency,” Mr McKechnie said.
Mr Price said, “If you are sick or there is a medical emergency at the moment the nearest public facility is 45 minutes away in Wonthaggi or one and a half hours to Berwick or Dandenong.
Mr McKechnie said, “In an emergency most of the local ambulance officers take a left turn at the Anderson roundabout and head towards Melbourne because they know if they go to Wonthaggi most times they are turned around to go elsewhere.
Mr Price said, “The last thing we want to do is bag our local ambos, they do an excellent job but there just isn’t enough resources on the Island.
“Our ambulance officers are stressed and stretched to the limit, they too need support and a new 24 hour public facility would help to alleviate the enormous stress local ambulance officers are currently under,” he said.
“This is a huge issue on the Island and we had 650 people sign the attendance book, all keen to see a 24 hour, seven day a week public Accident and Emergency facility established on Phillip Island,” Mr Price said.
“Ideally people would like to see a hospital back on the Island and while people realise this will take time to organise locals want our State and Federal politicians to show some interest and give people some hope of this facility being established in the future,” he said.
The closure of the 85 year old private, not-for-profit Warley Hospital in 2008 left the island, a popular holiday destination, without an acute care facility.
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