The State Liberals today called on the Weatherill Government to stop the planned sale of the Repatriation General Hospital and retain its specialist dementia facility Ward 18 as a home for residents of Oakden.
“The Repat is an ideal base for a State Government service for South Australians with severe dementia and associated challenging behaviours,” said Shadow Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Stephen Wade.
“Disposing of Ward 18 at the Repat as part of a fire sale would be an obscene waste of taxpayer’s money.
“Ward 18 is a purpose-built older person’s mental health facility constructed at a cost of $10 million.
“It is a valuable asset only 10 years old with a contemporary design so sound that the Weatherill Government is basically replicating it at the Flinders Medical Centre.
“In his recent report, the Chief Psychiatrist has recommended that the State establish a purpose-built facility.
“The Chief Psychiatrist estimated that, within four years, there will be 29 South Australians needing the high level of care that would be provided by the purpose-built facility – Ward 18 has capacity for 30.
“The Chief Psychiatrist says that a new facility may take two years to build – Ward 18 is scheduled to be available from September.
Neil Baron, a retired aged care consultant and key Oakden whistleblower, welcomed the proposal saying:
Retaining Ward 18 as an older person’s mental health facility is a good use of a valuable public asset. Flogging off Ward 18 would be yet another crime against the residents of Makk & McLeay – delaying the fresh start that they deserve.
Most of all, the proposal gives hope of cultural change. Barb Spriggs, who experienced both Ward 18 and Makk & McLeay, has publically indicated that they were chalk and cheese. The Ward 18 staff understood the area and were able to provide a caring professional environment. Using the current Ward 18 team to seed two teams would be the best solution and should be seen by both State and Commonwealth Governments as a way of acknowledging the deplorable situation that both have allowed to persist for decades.
If the Weatherill Government is serious about correcting the injustice, using Ward 18 should be one of their first steps to correct this gross injustice, not just shift the problem and hope that it will, once again, go away.
The State Liberals are calling on ACH and the Government to step back from selling the Repatriation General Hospital and fundamentally reassess of the best way to deliver a health precinct on the Daw Park site.