Member for Narracan, Gary Blackwood, has used Parliament debate to question why the Victorian Government is either hiding documents from Freedom of Information relating to their study of the West Gippsland Healthcare Group or misleading the Parliament after stating publicly the report was completed.
On 22nd March 2016, Member for Eastern Victoria Ms Harriet Shing, asked a question to the Minister for Health and stated that a review into the West Gippsland Health Service ‘has now been discharged.’
Quote source – Parliament of Victoria Hansard, Harriet Shing 22 March 2016
However, a Freedom of Information request lodged by the Shadow Minister for Health on May 3rd 2016 was denied on the basis that the review had not been completed and no documents relevant to the request currently exist.
‘It is my understanding that both pieces of work have been completed,’ Mr Blackwood said.
‘Either the Member for Eastern Victoria misled the Legislative Council on 22 March or the department is not being honest in the way it has dealt with the FOI request from the Shadow Minister for Health.
‘Either way, the Minister for Health must address this matter as the West Gippsland community deserve to know what the future holds for the delivery of health care in their area.
Mr Blackwood said the failure to release the report publicly was undermining the outstanding work done by the West Gippsland Healthcare Board and its staff and with increased population growth the Andrews Government should release the plan it promised to develop for the future needs of the health service.
‘The staff and board of management of the healthcare group also need to be shown a little respect and appreciation for the outstanding manner in which they are currently coping with the enormous increase in demand for their services due to the continuing massive population growth in West Gippsland.
‘Thanks to the professionalism of staff and practitioners, the quality of health care delivered at the West Gippsland Hospital is second to none.
‘All involved at the healthcare group and the community deserve to be encouraged, supported, kept informed of the process and not kept in the dark.
‘They need to be given confidence that this government is honouring its election commitment and, more importantly, is taking the appropriate steps to ensure the West Gippsland Healthcare Group can manage the increasing demand and continue to provide timely access to health services both now and in the future.
‘The release of these documents will also facilitate further discussion and hopefully a decision on the construction of a new hospital on the greenfield site between Warragul and Drouin,’ said Mr Blackwood.