Boards to give locals more input on health

THE news on the front page of today’s Times, that the state government is beginning to implement Local Health Network Governing Boards, is promising news for Eyre Peninsula. 

When Country Health SA took over the running of local regional hospitals, hospital boards were done away with leaving local communities without the local voice in health they once had. 

In the years since hospital boards were abolished, hospital auxiliaries and health advisory councils have tried to do what they can to make sure money donated locally is spent on local health services and equipment but they have never had power to make decisions.

They lacked potency and authority, and many would argue it has cost local hospitals and health services dearly.

At the crux of the issues raised in last year’s regional health services inquiry, was that health advisory council’s (HAC) lacked the ability to influence the decisions made about local health services in any meaningful way – or the processes available for it to contribute had become way too convoluted to even try. 

And while this lot of reform might not give local HACs any more authority, hopefully it will do something to halt, if not reverse, the centralisation of regional health services. 

It is unlikely the LHN governing boards will fix all of the region’s health problems and it is likely many of the big decisions will be out of local hands, but this does seem like a step in the right direction.

There has only ever been strong community support for the re-establishment of local health boards, so as long as the LHN governing board does as promised, it can only be a good thing. 

While the roll-out of the changes will be staged over the next year, expressions of interest (EOI) in board chairperson positions are now open with the board member position EOI to start later this year. 

The region is home to many who are passionate about country health services and hopefully some of those people put their hand up to sit on the Eyre and Far North Local Health Network governing board. 

As with any reform, there are likely to be a few bumps along the way and it is unlikely the model will be perfect but this is something local people have been crying out for, so it would be good to see it supported.