EAST Grampians Health Service is able to provide a wide range of services, but the lack of permanent staff is an ongoing challenge.
Acting chief officer Peter Armstrong said that a high number of patients benefit from the health services’ regional partnership network.
“Sixty five per cent of our work in theatre is local people from Ararat and surrounds, and the rest from the wider regions with people travelling for all specialties,” he said.
“Most other services provided by EGHS are for local people from our sub region. We still deliver babies through the strong partnership between Ararat Medical Centre Doctors and EGHS midwives.”
However, the hospital has a large number of visiting staff.
“All our doctors are Visiting Medical Officers including the GPs at Ararat Medical Centre and Tristar and local dentists. All other specialists visit from out of town, mainly Ballarat. Most consult in Ararat as well as perform procedures,” Mr Armstrong said.
While the range of practitioners was good, Mr Armstrong said a non-permanent workforce wasn’t without issues.
“(We would like) more time from ENT and orthopedics, the radiologist, more GPs and GP proceduralists,” he said.
“Access to any specialist clinician in regional areas is challenging; not just medical staff but also nursing staff, allied health staff, radiology staff, midwives etc. Workforce is our biggest risk.”
The cost of medical equipment was another challenging aspect of service provision.
“We are always on the lookout for equipment for theatre, In Patient Unit, Urgent Care Centre, Maternity services – both monitoring, procedural and diagnostic equipment. Medical equipment is very expensive,” he said.
Mr Armstrong said the main difference between rural and metropolitan hospitals was the complexity of the care they could provide.
“The expectation of a high standard of care and the delivery of safe care is the same (across rural and metropolitan services). The difference is in the complexity of the care provided. We provide the level of care that can be safely managed based on the available resources,” he said.