Government needs to come clean on Paraburdoo Hospital

January 20, 2003 - Claims late last year that service downgrades at Paraburdoo hospital were a temporary 'Service model change' is causing alarm in the town, with no community consultation or confirmation that the 24 hour service will resume at Paraburdoo hospital.

Without consultation in December 2002, the Health Department moved to shut the hospital down at night claiming the reason was 'staff shortages' with patients having to go to Tom Price Hospital if they needed to stay in hospital overnight.

'People in town were distinctly unimpressed at the way the changes came out of the blue and the lack of proper communication,' Robin Chapple said. 'Sending out a flyer four days before the shutdowns begin does not qualify as 'consultation'.'

As we approach the end of January however, it is becoming clear that the problem is deeper than poor communication. 'We were assured that by mid-January an evaluation would be done, and that there would be no disadvantage suffered by the people of Paraburdoo. Local Paraburdoo resident and Pilbara Mineworkers Union organiser Stewart Edward who organised a petition calling for community consultation over the changes has stated that, 'The mining community views a fully functioning hospital as essential and have been expressing their concerns about the limited services which may become permanent. Residents are well aware that once hard won services, just like conditions at work are taken away, they are very, very difficult to get back.'

Robin Chapple also said that, ''This is starting to look like a significant downgrading of health services, conducted by stealth. I urge the people of Paraburdoo to make their voices heard now, so that this town does not suffer the same fate as Derby or any number of wheatbelt communities. At the very least, a process must be set in place for people to be put in the picture as to the Health Department's intentions.'

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