The long-awaited Yass Health Service Plan is open for community feedback.
Key recommendations include the provision of a midwife, an antenatal and postnatal clinic, increased medical imaging hours, increased speech pathologist hours, and non-means-tested community care funds to provide practical help in the home such as meals and child-minding upon discharge from an ACT hospital. Yass Hospital will keep its 10 beds open and have a doctor available all hours for genuine emergencies.
The plan was launched at Yass Hospital on Thursday.
It provides 40 recommendations - many of them heavily reliant on cross-border co-operation with ACT Health - for issues involving transport, health service models, communication, acute and emergency services at Yass Hospital, community health, pre and post-natal care, and Aboriginal health.
It also provides an anticipated timeframe for each recommendation to be implemented, and the official responsible for seeing it through.
The plan took into account many shire residents commuted to Canberra and with 35 per cent of the population living adjacent to the ACT border, there was a natural flow of people into the ACT for services. Also, the valley's population would continue to grow, especially in the over-70s age group.
“It is not the intention of this plan to duplicate services provided in ACT but to set directions that will allow the two health services (ACT Health and SNSWLHD) to work together to provide access to the health care that is required by the Yass Valley community," the executive summary said.
“The aim is to provide a niche for Yass Health Service as an emergency and pre/post care facility with strong integration with community based services."
The steering committee met over a six-month period to develop the plan, and involved representatives from Yass Valley Council Health Services Advisory Committee, service planners from ACT Health and Southern NSW Local Health District, Yass Hospital and Community Health management, Aboriginal Health and executives from SNSWLHD.
SNSWLHD chair Eve Bosak said on Thursday the committee consultation process had worked well.
“I want to congratulate everybody involved. When Max [Alexander - SNSWLHD CEO] and I first came here some months ago and spoke to Jasmin Jones we were quite concerned. We took a punt, really, on putting together a group involving the local community. It's worked so well here, that I'd use it in other areas.
“Now we need to put our money where our mouths are and make it happen."
Ms Jones has been actively seeking better maternity services for Yass for several years.
The plan is now available for four weeks of community feedback. Those interested can order a copy by calling Ann-Maree D’aquino at SNSWLHD on 6213 8322. It will be made available online at Yass Valley Council’s website next week.
“[We are] looking for little gems of feedback. In the community there're a lot of good things going on, but it's not necessarily co-ordinated or well known," SNSWLHD spokesman Michael Collins said.
For more on the plan pick up a copy of the Trib.